September 17, 2015 — The number of federal lawsuits involving fluoroquinolone antibiotics has doubled, reaching nearly 200 exactly one month after the litigation was established.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) released statistics (PDF) today.
A total of 192 lawsuits have been filed in MDL No. 2642, located in federal court in Minnesota and overseen by Judge John R. Tunheim. All of the cases involve peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage linked to the antibiotics.
The fluoroquinolone class includes some of the most popular antibiotics on the market, such as Levaquin and Avelox. In 2011 alone, 23 million patients received a prescription for a fluoroquinolone. Even if nerve damage is a rare side effect, it is possible that thousands of people were injured.
Plaintiffs accuse drug-makers of intentionally downplaying the risk of nerve damage. Studies published as early as 2001 warned that it could occur after just a couple doses and cause permanent side effects.
Drug-makers added peripheral neuropathy to the list of possible side effects in 2004, but suggested that cases would resolve when the antibiotic was discontinued.
In August 2013, the FDA issued a Safety Communication and ordered drug-makers to update the label to emphasize the risk of rapid, permanent nerve damage. The agency warned consumers:
“Know that it 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.”