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Day 27 of Our 31 Day Series of How Medicine Got It Wrong

Fluoroquinolones: When Medicine Got It Wrong - The Dangers of Overprescribing Antibiotics


Over the years, medicine has been the backbone of the healthcare system, and it has saved millions of lives. However, sometimes medicine can get it wrong, and the consequences can be disastrous. One example of such a situation is the use of fluoroquinolones, which are a class of antibiotics commonly prescribed for a variety of infections.


Despite their effectiveness in treating bacterial infections, fluoroquinolones have been associated with serious side effects that have led to long-term damage and even death. These side effects include tendon rupture, central nervous system disorders, low blood sugar, and even psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, anxiety, and depression.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the warnings for fluoroquinolones several times, adding black box warnings to alert physicians and patients of the potential risks associated with their use. However, some doctors continue to overprescribe these antibiotics, despite the warnings.


One of the biggest concerns with fluoroquinolones is their effect on tendons. Studies have shown that these antibiotics can cause tendon damage and even ruptures, particularly in older adults and athletes. Furthermore, some studies have also shown a link between fluoroquinolone use and central nervous system disorders, including seizures, anxiety, and depression.


Despite these risks, fluoroquinolones are still commonly prescribed for a variety of infections, including urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal infections. In some cases, they may be the best treatment option, but physicians must exercise caution when prescribing them.


In conclusion, medicine is not perfect, and sometimes mistakes are made. The use of fluoroquinolones is a clear example of how medicine can get it wrong. Despite the warnings from the FDA and medical experts, some doctors continue to overprescribe these antibiotics, putting their patients at risk of serious harm. As patients, it is crucial to be informed about the potential risks and benefits of any medication prescribed and to communicate with your physician about your concerns.


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References:

  1. FDA Updates Warnings on Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics: Risks of Mental Health and Low Blood Sugar Adverse Events. (2020, December 10). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-updates-warnings-fluoroquinolone-antibiotics-risks-mental-health-and-low-blood-sugar-adverse

  2. Khaliq, Y., Zhanel, G. G., & Fluoroquinolone Study Group. (2003). Musculoskeletal injury associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 36(11), 1407-1414. doi:10.1086/374842

  3. Etminan, M., Forooghian, F., Brophy, J. M., Bird, S. T., & Maberley, D. (2012). Oral fluoroquinolones and the risk of retinal detachment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(13), 1414-1419. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.383

  4. Black Box Warning for Fluoroquinolones: What Now? (2008, December). Emergency Medicine News. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/em-news/fulltext/2008/12000/black_box_warning_for_fluoroquinolones__what_now_.12.aspx

  5. FDA Black Box Warning for Levaquin, Cipro Antibiotic Risk. (2016, May 16). Drugwatch. Retrieved from https://www.drugwatch.com/news/2016/05/16/fda-black-box-warning-for-levaquin-cipro-antibiotic-risk/

  6. Doctors Still Overprescribing Fluroquinolones Despite Risks. (2022, July 5). WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/news/20220705/doctors-still-overprescribing-fluroquinolones-despite-risks

  7. FDA Ignores Calls to Boost Warnings on Popular Antibiotics. (2022, February 9). News 5 Cleveland. Retrieved from https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/investigations/fda-ignores-calls-to-boost-warnings-on-popular-antibiotics