Levaquin® (levofloxacin) is a type of prescription drug in the class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. It was made and marketed by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, to treat lung, sinus, skin and urinary tract infections caused by bacteria. Doctors often prescribe Levaquin for the treatment of bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia.
What Risks Are Associated with Taking Levaquin®?
The use of Levaquin® is linked to an increased risk of tendonitis and ruptured tendons. Tendons are the fibrous bands that connect muscles to bones throughout the body. Tendonitis is a painful condition that occurs when tendons are swollen and inflamed. The tendons most commonly affected by tendonitis are those around the wrist, knee, heel and shoulder.
A ruptured tendon, meaning a torn tendon, is an even more serious condition that can cause excruciating pain and permanent disability. Although any Levaquin® user could develop tendon problems, the risk is greater for those who:
- Are over age 60
- Are taking steroids
- Have had a kidney, heart or lung transplant
Other possible side effects of Levaquin® include liver damage, seizures, nerve damage, skin rashes, intestinal infections and irregular heart beats.
Why Is Ortho-McNeil Being Sued?
Plaintiffs who suffered tendon injuries after using the drug Levaquin® sued Ortho-McNeil and its parent company Johnson & Johnson, claiming that Levaquin® is a dangerous and defective product. The plaintiffs say that despite knowing about several studies that linked Levaquin® and other fluoroquinolones to tendon injuries, the drug makers down-played the risks of tendon injury when marketing and labeling the drug. They argue the drug makers should have put stronger warnings on packages and product information to help doctors better evaluate the risks when prescribing the drug.
Almost 100 lawsuits alleging Levaquin®-related injuries were filed in federal and state courts by May 2009. Attorneys involved in the litigation estimate that eventually the number of Levaquin®cases nationwide will number in the thousands. All Levaquin® federal court cases are being handled by the Minnesota US District Court.
How Do I File a Levaquin® Claim?
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you think you might have a Levaquin® claim. Through statutes of limitation, the laws of each state limit the amount of time you have for filing a lawsuit. Your claims may be forever barred if you wait too long to get legal help.
Look for a personal injury attorney with proven experience in dangerous drug litigation. Most attorneys practicing in this area of law will provide you with a free initial consultation to let you know if litigation is worthwhile. They can tell you about your chances of success and estimate the amount of compensation you could recover. They may also be able to take your case on a contingency fee basis, meaning they are paid by collecting a percentage of any recovery you make on your legal claims.
Once you select a lawyer, you will need to provide information regarding:
- When and how long you took Levaquin®, as well as the dosage
- Whether you took Levaquin® regularly
- What type of Levaquin® -related injury you suffered and when the injury occurred
As your case develops, your lawyer can advise you about negotiating an out-of-court settlement or taking your case to trial.
How Can I Report a Serious Side Effect with Levaquin® to the FDA?
If you’re aware of a serious adverse reaction to Levaquin®, the FDA encourages you to make a MedWatch report or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Questions for Your Attorney
- If someone claims injury due to a prescription drug, in joining a class action lawsuit required, or can someone maintain a case independently?
- Who is liable when a patient is injured and a doctor prescribed a drug for “off-label” use? Can the manufacturer be liable too?
- What is the timeline for resolving a complex case, such as those involving widely-prescribed medications and class action lawsuits?