The author is a Metro Detroit resident
By David Rubenstein
I am not a writer. I am an everyday American who has a tale to tell about an injustice that is being perpetrated by my/your doctor, the FDA, my political representatives, both State and Federal. My story has a lot of twists, turns, frustrations, and outright indifference to my problem. I could write a tale longer than you’d probably care to read, so here is the abbreviated version of what I’ve suffered.
Ciprofloxacin is an FDA approved antibiotic of the family of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. Other fluoroquinolones are marketed under the names Levaquin, Avelox, Moxifloxacin, Ofloxacin, etc. These drugs are available and administered in tablets, eye and ear drops, etc. They are prescribed for adults, children, pets, etc. They are commonly prescribed for simple UTIS, Sinus infections, and other non-life-threatening infections.
Fluoroquinolones were first approved by the FDA in the 1960s. In the 80’s, big pharma added fluorine atoms to the quinolones’ structures. This allowed the antibiotics to penetrate tissues throughout the body, including the central nervous system, and boosted their effectiveness against a broad range of bacterial infections. The drugs might have become more effective, but adding the fluorine atom made them potentially dangerous.
In fact, fluoroquinolones have been recognized to be so dangerous that the FDA has issued multiple black box warnings. These warnings are intended to call attention to certain risks or instructions so that healthcare professionals will be aware of them and carefully consider them when prescribing medications to patients. They appear printed in bold font surrounded by a black border on the insert that comes inside a medication’s packaging, and on the drug manufacturer’s website. These warnings have been issued because the drugs have been known to cause permanent neuropathy and other neurological problems, tendon tears, heart damage, colitis, depression, insomnia, etc. At this time, fluoroquinolones are only to be prescribed as a “last resort” therapy, I.e., when no other antibiotic resolved the infection. Sadly though, doctors continue to write prescriptions for fluoroquinolones, as much as 21,000,000 times annually (as of 2019).
Damaged My Health
Now to my story. Six years ago, I had some discomfort in my groin and suspected that I might have a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). I went to my urologist, and I left a urine sample. The doctor prescribed me Bactrim, to which I had an allergic reaction (mouth ulcers). I phoned the doctor and told him. He asked me, “how about if I prescribe you Cipro”? Like most people who trust their doctor, I responded, “yes, please phone it in”. I felt good that my discomfort would be resolved. The doctor not only didn’t comply with the FDA black box warnings, it turned out that my urine specimen didn’t reveal any infection. Even more important, neither the doctor nor the pharmacist explained to me the risk that I was taking by ingesting Cipro.
Well, as is common with people who have been poisoned by fluoroquinolone (aka floxies), I had no immediate ill effects from the medicine. However, I was not yet “safe,” not that I knew that I could be in harm's way. Lo and behold, a month later things changed.
All of a sudden, my lips became numb. A short time later I felt tingling and burning in my extremities. I knew that something was wrong and I had a feeling what it was. You see, I was sick from 1990-1999 from an “undiagnosed” syndrome. I went to the University of Michigan Hospital, to Johns Hopkins, and to Mayo Clinic, looking for answers. Not one doctor knew what was wrong with me. Thanks to the internet I immediately was able to learn what was causing my symptoms. The amount of information on the dangers of these antibiotics is staggering. I had been poisoned. To be clear, I’m not talking about side effects. I’m talking about permanent damage.
It’s been six years now and my symptoms have gotten worse. I suffer from polyneuropathy, optic neuropathy, tendon pain, muscle wasting, muscle fatigue, central nervous system problems, rapid aging, and tooth loss because of collagen depletion, etc. To this day, doctors still cannot diagnose this ailment. I am not only suffering the symptoms of being poisoned but my doctor told me to expect an “early” death. You cannot imagine the frustration of those suffering this injustice when their doctor and specialists are unable to diagnose their ailments.
To add insult to injury, victims of these medications have no recourse. Not only is there no treatment for this syndrome (Fluoroquinolone Toxicity), but the FDA, which is aware of the fact that this drug can ruin peoples’ lives, refuses to “pull” it. Our laws are such that we cannot sue the FDA, the doctor, nor the pharmaceutical companies. I have contacted both my State and Federal legislators and received less than satisfactory responses. If I was lucky, I got back a form letter that had nothing to do with my complaint. The bottom line: You get poisoned and you are screwed. The sad irony is that when Putin poisons one person it makes global headlines!!
The truth is that many other FDA approved drugs can and do cause permanent harm and perhaps death. The pharmaceutical companies continue to make billions in profits without any recourse. Something needs to be done to remedy this horrible injustice. There are several easy fixes that will reduce the number of these incidents, such as:
►Requiring that the doctor explain to you and give you a document that details the risks when a drug can cause permanent damage or cause death. It should be required that you sign that form confirming that the risks have been explained to you.
►Requiring the pharmaceutical manufacturers to maintain a slush fund to, at minimum, pay for any treatments not covered by insurance. (I have spent more than $40,000 out of pocket pursuing an effective treatment not covered by insurance, i.e., stem cells, acupuncture, collagen injections, supplements, medical devices, etc.
►Hold the doctor liable when a medicine is used improperly, off label, or when no diagnosis supports the administration of that medicine. Also, the doctor should be held responsible if there are safer alternatives to the drug prescribed.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org