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Antibiotic ciprofloxacin linked to UK deaths

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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 4:23 pm    Post subject: Antibiotic ciprofloxacin linked to UK deaths Reply with quote

Popular antibiotic ciprofloxacin linked to UK deaths

Andrew Wasley - 23rd May, 2011

Millions of us are successfully treated with ciprofloxacin
and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics each year. But for
some patients the drugs are linked to severe adverse
reactions involving terrifying physical and mental health
impacts. Andrew Wasley reports

Patients who say they’ve suffered severe adverse reactions
to a common antibiotic are calling for action to prevent others
from experiencing a 'frightening' number of alleged physical
and mental side effects.

The victims, who say they were poisoned by ciprofloxacin,
want more research into the drug’s side effects, greater
education of health professionals and clearer warnings for

The calls come as an Ecologist investigation revealed the
antibiotic has been linked to more than forty deaths in the
UK in recent years, and been the subject of hundreds of
suspected adverse reactions.

Ciprofloxacin, part of the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics,
is prescribed to treat a range of medical conditions, including
bacterial infections. Fluoroquinolones are also – controversially
– used to treat diseases in poultry, pig and cattle farming.

Symptoms associated with fluoroquinolone reactions include
– according to victims – chronic fatigue, tendonitis, joint pain,
muscle weakness and spasms, bladder pain, heart palpitations,
depression and anxiety problems, panic attacks, tinnitus,
unexplained buzzing and tingling, electric shock-type sensations,
insomnia, numbness, impaired vision and sensitivity to light.

Some victims say problems begin immediately after taking
the medicine, others weeks or even months later. Some
experience minor side effects, others a pattern of debilitating

Doctors say however that the percentage of patients who
suffer is tiny compared with the overall volume of people
successfully treated with the drugs. Millions of prescriptions
of ciprofloxacin are administered annually with no reported
side effects.

All drugs have to go through a strict testing and licensing
procedure in order to be approved, and medicines are
constantly reviewed by drug manufacturers. Antibiotics
kill bacteria and prevent them from reproducing, and the
drugs are credited with saving many lives.

Experts also caution that proving that a drug caused an
adverse reaction is fraught with difficulty and point out
that possible side effects are clearly listed on prescription

In the US however, there have been growing calls for
fluoroquinolones to be restricted, and manufacturers have
been forced to improve warnings on packaging
. In 2001 a
leading consultant, Dr Jay Cohen, published a ground breaking
if controversial article on the ‘severe and often disabling’
reactions some people sustain whilst taking fluoroquonolones.

Cohen said: ‘It is difficult to describe the severity of these
reactions. They are devastating. Many of the people in my
study were healthy before their reactions. Some were high
intensity athletes. Suddenly they were disabled, in terrible pain,
unable to work, walk, or sleep.’

The precise number of US cases is unclear but figures
have suggested some fluoroquinolones have generated
more than 14,000 adverse reaction reports, and been
linked to as many as a 1000 deaths. Public Citizen, which
successfully sued the US Food and Drug Administration
for clearer warnings and a patient guide, says it took action
after around 1,000 individuals suffered tendon rupture after
taking fluoroquinolones. Clinical studies have linked the
drug to this condition.

Electric shock symptoms

‘I loved life, exercise and movement, my wife, son, friends
and work colleagues. Now I am crippled [and] the medical
establishment appear to not be able to help me or take me
seriously… struggling to keep sane and get through this,’

wrote Geoff Robinson in his diary documenting an apparent
adverse reaction to ciprofloxacin.

The 39-year-old, from Sussex, was prescribed the drug
last year as a precaution against a suspected urinary infection.
The married father of one and fitness enthusiast told the
Ecologist he has ‘gone from being uber fit to absolutely
crushed with physical and nervous system damage’ after
taking the antibiotics last November.

Following a month of unexplained pain in his abdomen
and testicles, and after visiting his GP and hospital
throughout October, Robinson was prescribed ciprofloxacin
‘just in case’ by a urologist unable to pinpoint the cause
of his pain.

Several days after beginning the medication, Robinson
found blood in his faeces, developed a mouth ulcer and
had inflamed gums, as well as dizziness
. In the following
days he suffered panic attacks, feelings of disorientation
and had growing pains across his perineum, penis and anus

‘The pain had become unbearable,’ says Robinson, so much
so that he had laid on the floor ‘in agony’. At one point ‘I was
barely able to walk.’ The next day Robinson began experiencing
cold sensations in his feet and calves, pins and needles in his
hands, and - he maintains - his wedding ring ‘retracted and
moved on its own.’

These symptoms evolved to include burning and crawling
sensations on his skin, and an ‘electrical buzz’ type feeling
– ‘shocks into eyes, teeth, head, face, legs, feet [and]
parts of my body [were] jumping, twitching, spasms so
significant [it] made me itch
,’ Robinson recalled. He says
he experienced an altered heart beat at night, with it
feeling ‘very slow then speeding up.’

Just before Christmas Robinson reported pains in his armpits,
his lymph gland under his chin became inflamed and he felt
‘pressure' in his head. In February, his ankle joints and shoulder
began 'cracking', and his spine and right hip began 'clicking',
alongside bouts of tinnitus. He went to hospital eight times
– on three occasions in an ambulance. He also paid to see
private practitioners. All struggled to diagnose him, despite
a multitude of tests.

He was convinced the problems were down to the antibiotics,
but several doctors ruled out ciprofloxacin, others were doubtful.
One conceded that the antibiotic could have been responsible
whilst another – a leading consultant – told him in person that
he believed ciprofloxacin was probably to blame, but didn’t
confirm this in later correspondence.

Robinson says that other medications he was prescribed
alongside ciprofloxacin may have exacerbated the reaction:
he was given diclofenac – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drug – to take with the antibiotics but chose not to take it
until three days after he’d finished the ciprofloxacin.
Fluoroquinolones and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs can be a potentially toxic combination, according
to some experts. Although his adverse reaction began
days before taking the diclofenac it’s possible, he believes,
that the anti-inflammatory worsened the symptoms.

Robinson reported his condition, via the Yellow Card
scheme, to the Medicines and Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – which oversees drug
licensing in the UK – and says they confirmed his
symptoms were similar to side effects associated
with ciprofloxacin.

Although he has recently carried out some work
- he was previously signed off sick – he blames
the reaction for putting huge pressure on his mental
and physical health.

‘My son is 12 years old and was used to his dad taking
him out and generally being very active,’ he says. ‘That’s
not been possible.' Robinson says that the toll on his wife
has been huge and that it's affected their relationship:
‘I cannot work, I cannot exercise, I cannot drive, which
makes day to day trips difficult,’ he says. ‘No alcohol,
multiple food allergies, no sex life, sensitivity to sound…
it’s miserable.’

Excruciating pain

Rebecca Smith, 36, from London, describes a similar
experience after being prescribed ciprofloxacin to treat
a suspected urinary infection in October 2009. She told
the Ecologist that her adverse reaction to the antibiotic
has ‘limited anything I can do; I used to be very active,
hiking [going on] holiday, singing in a choir’ and says
that she’s suffered months of poor health.

She initially suffered a panic attack and shaking,
experienced sharp pain in both of her heels, buzzing,
cold sweats at night, numbness and a tightness in her
chest. She also says the reaction has caused the veins
in her feet to become much more prominent and for the
hairs on her legs to fall out.

Smith was hospitalised for three days after taking the
drug: ‘The pain was excruciating and spread; aches
and pains in my arms and heels, my toes kept going numb…
my GP said this was not side effects [of ciprofloxacin]…
they suggested the pain in my heels was because “I was
on my feet too much”

Seven months after the initial symptoms, Smith suffered
a major flare up that she puts down to ‘residual damage’
caused to her nerves, tendons and muscles. She describes
clasping a music holder during a concert in which she was
singing and felt a burning and tingling in her forearms.
Additionally, the backs of her elbows started to hurt. She
was suffering from tendonitis, a side effect associated
with ciprofloxacin.

‘At A&E they didn’t acknowledge this – [even though]
I had mentioned the ciprofloxacin’. Later, Smith says her
hands swelled up and went blue
as a result of a ruptured
tendon in her elbow: ‘I had to sit at home for a week,
was off work for three weeks, I couldn’t type,’ she says.

Despite having much of her strength back Smith believes
the reaction has weakened her; she had been due to undergo
surgery for another condition but was taken off the list after
the reaction as 'I couldn't cope with being on the crutches.'
She says that even carrying out everyday tasks – like lifting
her suitcase when on holiday recently – can still bring on
unexpected pains and aches.

Smith says the majority of doctors she dealt with didn’t
recognise her symptoms as an adverse reaction, although
one said it was ‘possibly ciprofloxacin’.

Others who say they have been poisoned by ciprofloxacin
complain that doctors discount – and appear to disbelieve
even – that the drug can cause such severe reactions.

‘Apart from the pain of the reaction itself, getting people to
listen and consider [ciprofloxacin] as an option is so
challenging I almost gave up bothering’, Paul Jones,
now recovering after an apparent reaction, recalls.
"‘You shouldn’t believe what you read on the internet’
is a typical reply from the doctor
, or, “you must listen
to your doctor as they are right 99 per cent of the time”
is another.’

The 32 year old, from Bristol, lost his job after reacting
to a prescription of ciprofloxacin for suspected orchitis.
Despite suffering a range of symptoms similar to Robinson
and Smith he said his doctor ‘did not want to know’ and
admits even trying to convince his family that ciprofloxacin
might be responsible was hard.

The patients unanimously believe they were not
warned about the possible side effects of ciprofloxacin.
Although conceding that notes accompanying the
medication do outline reactions they maintain it's
the doctors responsibility to educate themselves and
pass this info onto patients – and, crucially – to research
links when problems are reported.

‘Doctors need to be better educated and shouldn’t be
handing out drugs [they] know nothing about,’ says
Smith. She believes the medical profession has treated
her ‘terribly, it’s terrible when they’ve not listened to
,’ and – whilst acknowledging that there is a need
for the drugs – says they should be more restricted.

Robinson argues more research needs carrying out
into the side effects of ciprofloxacin and in the meantime
says warnings with all fluoroquinolones should be made
more prominent, as in the US.

He also says he believes that residues of fluoroquinolines
in meat he has consumed may have caused his reactions
to flare up significantly, raising concerns over the
possible health implications of treating livestock
with antibiotics.

Wider pattern of adverse reaction

All three are amongst a larger number of UK patients who
have been reported for suspected adverse reactions to
ciprofloxacin in recent years; figures obtained by the
Ecologist reveal that 1,210 adverse reaction reports
relating to the drug were submitted to the MHRA
between January 2000 and March 2011. Forty-six
deaths in the UK in the same period were also linked
to ciprofloxacin.

The figures in turn form part of a wider pattern of
adverse reactions to medications, with many people
being admitted to hospital each year. A 2004 study
by the University of Liverpool suggested that as many
as 10,000 patients annually were dying in the UK
because of adverse reactions.
The researchers
stressed the overwhelming majority taking medication
do not suffer side-effects.

The researchers estimated – at the time – that adverse
reactions were costing the NHS £466 million. More
recent research by think-tank Compass put the figure
at nearly £2 billion.

As in the US, those who say they suffered adverse
reactions to fluoroquinolones believe the true figure
is higher, as not everyone affected attributes symptoms
to antibiotics, and doctors do not always make the link.

Experts caution however that establishing the precise
cause of adverse reactions – and even proving that
described symptoms are indeed an adverse drug
reaction as opposed to an underlying medical condition
– can be difficult.

Jeffrey Aronson, President Emeritus of the British
Pharmacological Society, told the Ecologist that ‘only
in a very few – and rare – cases [of adverse reactions]
can you be sure. In 99.9 per cent of cases you don’t
get obvious proof.’

Aronson says there is an assumption that people
‘take a tablet, get an effect’, and therefore that the two
are linked. But the reality is that ‘things happen coincidentally,
there is a tension here as [drugs] can cause adverse reactions
but whether it was directly to blame for specific symptoms,
that’s different.’

He said he was aware of tendonitis and tendon
rupture being associated with fluoroquinolones.

In a statement to the Ecologist, the MHRA said: ‘All
medicines have side effects - no effective medicine
is without risk. The priority of the MHRA is to ensure
that the benefits of medication outweigh the risks.
It is important to note that a report of an adverse
drug reaction does not prove that it was caused by
the drug. Other factors such as the underlying disease
or other medicines may contribute to suspected
adverse reactions.’

The body acknowledged that ‘as with any medicine,
ciprofloxacin and other fluoroquinolones may cause
side effects in some people.’ The MHRA confirmed
that it had ‘received 46 reports of suspected side
effects with a fatal outcome in association with
ciprofloxacin via the Yellow Card Scheme’ between
2000 and the present day, but said ‘whilst such
reports may relate to true side effects, they may
also be coincidental events
due to factors such as
underlying or undiagnosed illness or infection.'

‘Such figures must also be considered within the
context of the serious infections ciprofloxacin is
used to treat, and the number of people treated.
For instance, in 2010 alone around 1 million
prescriptions for ciprofloxacin were dispensed
by community pharmacists in the UK,’ the
statement continued.

Does the benefit outweigh the harm?

Aronson says the onus should be on doctors to
explain possible side effects of drugs. “‘I’ll look it up”
– that would be what would be expected of a good
doctor,’ he said. He added the first port of call would
ordinarily be a ‘summary of product characteristics’
document, followed by a package insert containing
warnings of adverse affects – known as a ‘patient
information leaflet’. He also said all doctors have
access to the British National Formulary, a database
that provides practical information and guidance on
the use of medicines, and the Electronic Medicines

Claudia Louch, a Harley Street-based natural skin
care expert with a background in pharmacology and
allergies said it was hard to be certain how widespread
recognition of the problem amongst healthcare
professionals was.

‘This is difficult to estimate as it depends on what
practitioners prescribe to their patients, how this
is monitored by the practitioner, as well as symptoms
reported to the practitioner by the patient; there are
a lot of grey areas, as the patient may have other
pre-existing conditions, which may confuse the general
picture and terms of symptoms as causing similar
types of symptoms in the first instance.’

The MHRA says it believes current drug labelling
is adequate, and that the patient information leaflet
‘is a useful basis to aid a discussion between prescribers
and patients on the risks and benefits of a medicine’.
The body said health care professionals were kept
updated with any developments.

Medical experts say that tackling adverse reactions
is complex. ‘It’s a case of asking, “what’s the benefit,
does it outweigh the harm?,’” says Aronson. He cites
the example of someone suffering a headache and
someone suffering from cancer: ‘In the case of cancer
one might be prepared to [to risk] a severe adverse
reaction, with a headache that might not apply.’ He
admitted that work to ‘improve prescribing’ needed
to be done, as some doctors are ‘not well enough
trained in prescribing.’

In the event of a pattern of serious reactions to
a specific drug being reported, health officials have
a number of options – amendments to labelling,
voluntary withdrawal by the medicine’s manufacturer,
or a recommendation by the MHRA for the drug’s
licence to be withdrawn.

Bayer, manufacturer of ciprofloxacin, declined
to respond to the Ecologist.

*The names of some patients have been changed


Truth fears no questions
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 4:50 pm    Post subject: weaponized anthrax prophylaxis? Reply with quote

Three personal experiences with the "fibromyalgia" post-operative, secondary infection antibiotic, also known as the "gulf-war syndrome drug".

Healthy and very competent subordinate (45 yrs. old) went in for a descending bladder problem and had a secondary infection post-op. Within 3 months, her skin was ulcerating whenever touched by metal (rings, jewelry, glasses) and she had "new" sensitivities to just about every chemical in the plant where we worked. Within 12 months she was unable to work, sleep or generally function. The group insurer tried to pawn it off as an industrial accident and when that didn't work they admitted to "fibromyalgia" for which they denied coverage based on the fact that it was classed as a "condition" that was not covered by the policy. The person went on welfare and 10 years after the fact, is still on social assistance.

Co-worker had heart-valve surgery (60 years old) and within 2 months of cipro application developed such sensitivity to sunlight (blistering after 5 minutes) that he was unable to go outside without sunblock and opaque clothing. 5 years later, the condition is still as bad as ever.

Co-worker (retired consultant, 68 yr. old) had a hernia operation and 3 months after cipro use, started to experience electric-like shocks all over his body, especially at night, depriving him of sleep. 2 years after, no change.

This drug makes anthrax look like an improvement.

The grand design, reflected in the face of Chaos.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dolph (not Lundgren)

you got it (not anthrax, BTW). Good job too I say, old boy:


Before trekking across SE Asia I took an antibiotic that almost sent me mad.

[Yeah yeah.]

The name escapes me. I'll get back to you. Sunlight super-sensitivity was one of many side effects, nightmares too.

Now I just do crack.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:33 pm    Post subject: making headway with flukes Reply with quote

atm wrote:

Now I just do crack.

Prolly safer Wink

The boys in the pod (not i-) suggest fish oils. Idea

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Were they involved in 9/11?

WTF are you on (about), Dolph?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:20 am    Post subject: not on porpoise Reply with quote

Just high on life (or so my upper self informs me).

Their only involvement with 9-11 was the thank-you notes sent to AJ and Fetzer et al for the amusing rhetoric.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Domestos and DDT.

Avoid avoid avoid!

No high, just ICU and a huge medical bill.

Low savings, low savings, low savings. [My insurance doesn't cover stupidity.]

It's truly a miracle that I'm still alive (must be all that chlorine - you should know, being a dolphin.)

BTW, could you email me some Toilet Duck? I'm getting withdrawl symptoms.

atm Neutral
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