Quoted from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/popular-antibiotics-may-carry-serious-side-effects/
Popular Antibiotics May Carry Serious Side Effects
By JANE E. BRODY
September 10, 2012
Antibiotics are important drugs, often restoring health and even saving lives. But like all drugs, they can have unwanted and serious side effects, some of which may not become apparent until many thousands of patients have been treated.
Such is the case with an important class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. The best known are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin). In 2010, Levaquin was the best-selling antibiotic in the United States.
But by last year it was also the subject of more than 2,000 lawsuits from patients who had suffered severe reactions after taking it.
Part of the problem is that fluoroquinolones are often inappropriately prescribed. Instead of being reserved for use against serious, perhaps life-threatening bacterial infections like hospital-acquired pneumonia, these antibiotics are frequently prescribed for sinusitis, bronchitis, earaches and other ailments that may resolve on their own or can be treated with less potent drugs or nondrug remedies — or are caused by viruses, which are not susceptible to antibiotics.
In an interview, Mahyar Etminan, a pharmacological epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said the drugs were overused “by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”
Dr. Etminan directed a study published in April in The Journal of the American Medical Association showing that the risk of suffering a potentially blinding retinal detachment was nearly fivefold higher among current users of fluoroquinolones, compared with nonusers. In another study submitted for publication, he documented a significantly increased risk of acute kidney failure among users of these drugs.
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