The antibiotic Cipro has been linked to nerve damage for over a decade. Unfortunately, the side effect was described as “rare” and the label did not warn that nerve damage could appear rapidly and last for years. The label on Cipro was not updated until 2013.
Cipro and Nerve Damage
Cipro (ciprofloxacin) is a popular prescription antibiotic in the fluoroquinolone class. Drugs in this class were first linked to cases of nerve damage in the 1980s, and evidence has continued to grow.
In 2001, a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy described 45 cases of nerve damage from fluoroquinolones, including 11 from Cipro. Over 80% of cases occurred within one week, 60% lasted more than one year, and 36 out of 45 were “severe events” involving multiple organ systems.
Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) was added to the label on Cipro in 2004. Unfortunately, this warning stated that nerve damage was a “rare” side effect. It did not include any information about the rapid onset of symptoms or the potentially permanent complications.
It was not until August 2013 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Safety Warning and ordered drug-makers to emphasize these risks.
The FDA warned:
“[Cipro] may cause symptoms in the arms or legs such as pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or a change in sensation to light touch, pain or temperature. These symptoms can occur early in treatment and may be permanent. Contact your health care professional right away if you take a fluoroquinolone drug and experience any of the above symptoms.”
What is the Risk?
A study published in Neurology in August 2014 estimated that current new users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics were twice as likely to be diagnosed with nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) compared to non-users. These conclusions were based on 6,226 cases of nerve damage in fluoroquinolone patients between 2001 and 2011.
Cipro Nerve Damage Symptoms
Cipro is associated with peripheral neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage that interferes with signals between the brain and limbs (arms and legs). Symptoms may include:
- Extreme touch sensitivity
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in sensation of texture and temperature
- Abnormal sense of body position
- And more