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Antibacterial Drugs

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Bacteria come in millions of forms. Although most are harmless or even helpful to human beings, some bacteria can cause infections and other health problems. Antibacterial drugs are developed to destroy or prevent the growth of these "bad" bacteria. These drugs are different from antibiotics in that they derive from bacteria or molds. Two of the most commonly prescribed antibacterial drugs are Cipro and Levaquin.

Cipro and Levaquin belong to a class of antibacterials known as fluoroquinolones, which have been found to cause tendinitis and ruptures in tendons — namely the Achilles tendon. For years consumer advocacy groups and others have fought, with little success, to increase public awareness of these product defect legal liabilities and require the manufacturers of fluoroquinolones to participate in these efforts. Meanwhile, hundreds if not thousands of people have suffered from painful injuries as a result of taking fluoroquinolones. Many people harmed by drugs such as Cipro and Levaquin have filed suit, claiming that the manufacturers should have done more to protect patients.

If you or someone you know has suffered a tendon injury or other side effect of Cipro or Levaquin, a personal injury lawyer can help determine if you have a right to compensation.

Cipro, Levaquin & Other Fluoroquinolones

There are 21 classes of antibacterial drugs, with fluoroquinolones and three others — penicillins, macrolides, and cephalosporins — accounting for approximately 80 percent of all antibacterial prescriptions and sales.* Cipro and Levaquin are fluoroquinolones.

Scientists group fluoroquinolones into two groups, with drugs belonging to each of the groups sharing certain pharmacological and antimicrobial activity. The first, older group includes ciprofloxacin (Cipro), ofloxacin and norflaxacin. The second, newer group includes levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin, gatifloxacin, gemifloxacin and trovafloxacin.


Resistance to fluoroquinolones has risen over the years. Nonetheless, they are considered effective against a variety of bacteria and are the preferred drug of many physicians for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The following chart shows the conditions for which Cipro and Levaquin are used. Note that treatment depends on the patient's individual symptoms and conditions, the physician's discretion and other factors.

Conditions Treated with Fluoroquinolones

Cipro Levaquin
FDA-approved Non-FDA-approved FDA-approved
Urinary tract infections

Anthrax inhalation

Intra-abdominal infections

Infectious diarrhea

Endocervical infections

Urethral infections

Neutropenic fever

Typhoid fever

Nosocomial pneumonia


Acute sinusitis

Skin/soft tissue infections

Bone/joint infections

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Corneal ulcers

Acute otitis
MTB infections

MAI infections

Other MOTT infections

Neutropenic fever
Chronic bronchitis

Bacterial sinusitis


Anthrax inhalation

Skin/soft tissue infections

Urinary tract infections

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Corneal ulcer

Bacterial prostatitis

Source: Johns Hopkins Point of Care Information Technology Center

Side Effects of Cipro and Levaquin

Most side effects of Cipro and Levaquin are rare, but some, including tendon rupture, can be serious. In July 2008 the FDA issued an alert notifying the manufacturers of these drugs that they would be required to develop a medication guide and add a "black box" warning to the prescribing information included with these bad drugs.

People taking Cipro, Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones are at increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. At particular risk are patients receiving steroid therapy, those over the age of 60, as well as people who have undergone heart, kidney or lung transplants.

Fluoroquinolones should only be prescribed when there is strong evidence of a condition caused by bacteria. If you have experienced unpleasant symptoms you suspect may be linked to taking Cipro or Levaquin, you should cease exercising and contact a physician immediately.

Cipro & Levaquin Lawsuits

Evidence pointing to these side effects has existed for years: As early as 1996, consumer advocacy groups, namely Public Citizen, were demanding the FDA take stronger action, citing undeniable evidence of the side effects, questionable marketing tactics on the part of the manufacturers, and failure on the part of the FDA to rein in the manufacturers and do more to warn patients of the risks.

Thanks to pressure on the part of these groups and states such as Illinois, in 2008 the FDA finally forced the manufacturers of Cipro, Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones to create Medical Guides and add black box warnings to the packaging of these products.

In the meantime, thousands of people have suffered tendon ruptures and other painful side effects of fluoroquinolones. If you or someone you know has been harmed as a result of taking one of these drugs, contact a personal injury lawyer today.

* Source: Nature Reviews