As of: 15.04.2019 10:43
The Federal Institute for Drug Safety and Medical Devices (BfArM) warns against the uncritical use of certain antibiotics, so-called fluoroquinolones Red hand letter to doctors and hospitals. These antibiotics should be prescribed only after a careful benefit-risk assessment in each case – taking into account all risks and application restrictions.
Side effects of fluoroquinolones
In Germany, the active substances ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, norfloxacin and ofloxacin are affected. They have been associated with serious side effects for a long time, which can occur after just a few pills:
- Tingling in the face and in the hands
- Deafness, pain and tears in the tendon area
- Muscle aches
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- liver damage
The side effects may persist for months or even after the drug has been discontinued. And not only that: New studies show that sufferers after taking fluoroquinolones have an increased risk of suffering an aortic aneurysm.
Risk of rupture of the aorta increases
An aortic aneurysm is a spindle or sac extension of the main artery (aorta) that can arise in all sections of the vein. If the weakened vessel wall tears, the affected person can bleed internally within a very short time. In some cases, fluoroquinolones can alter the vessel wall to produce vascular grafting and, in the worst case, rupture.
The walls of the main arteries have a similar structure to the Achilles tendon. Those who have problems with the Achilles tendon after taking fluoroquinolones may also have problems with the aorta. The extent to which the risk increases depends on the duration of antibiotic therapy. After a 14-day application of a fluoroquinolone, the risk of a study was almost threefold.
EU already restricted indication for fluoroquinolones
On the leaflet of the medication, the side effects are listed below as "rare side effects". Tens of thousands of cases are already listed in the EU's adverse reaction databases for this antibiotic group. Following a benefit-risk analysis, the authorities restricted the use of norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin in 2008 and levofloxacin in 2012.
Fluoroquinolones only in life-threatening diseases
In practice, however, the warnings are often not taken seriously enough, experts criticize. Many physicians also prescribed fluoroquinolones for relatively benign respiratory diseases or non-lethal urinary tract infections. In hospitals, these antibiotics would normally only be used in life-threatening infections if no other medicines were available.
Immediately discontinue medication for side effects
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered in 2016 that manufacturers must clearly point out the rare but massive side effects in the leaflets of fluoroquinolone antibiotics in bold. If other antibiotics are available for therapy, the agency advises physicians to stop prescribing fluoroquinolones. If side effects occur, a fluoroquinolone should also be discontinued immediately and switched to another antibiotic.