“Side Effects” or collateral damage? Is there a difference?

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The mantra of “all drugs have side-effects” has been so ingrained in us that we seem to have forgotten that these “side-effects” are deadly or devastating assaults on the health of those who suffer from them.  It is seen as a necessary evil that the medical/pharmaceutical industry has collateral damage and, rather than working to minimize the number of casualties that it has, we have accepted that they must happen and we look the other way.

When did this become okay?  When did it become okay for PEOPLE – sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, loved human beings – to become collateral damage in the quest for big pharma’s profits?  Even if you’re not feeling cynical enough to agree with the last sentence, we should still ask, when did it become okay for people to become collateral damage in the quest for minimizing disease and infection?

It is assumed that a certain amount of collateral damage (“side-effects” sounds nicer, but the truth is that some people are sacrificed) is necessary.  But is that assumption true?  It may be true sometimes.  The benefits of a dangerous drug may outweigh the risk of adverse effects in some cases.  But for dangerous drugs, where severe damage to the people who take them is a possibility, collateral damage should be minimized.  Policies should be put in place to minimize the number of people who are exposed to dangerous drugs.  Protocols should be established to ensure that patients are aware that the drugs that they’re taking are dangerous so that true informed consent can be established prior to administration of a drug that has severe adverse effects.

This is common sense.  So why isn’t it being done?  We could all go down the path of conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies creating customers instead of providing tools that will actually help and heal people, but, well, I don’t want this article to get lost down that rabbit hole.  But it is still shameful, and a collective tragedy for humanity, that the real dangers of drugs are not realized and recognized and that proper policies and protocols are not in place to minimize the damage caused by them.

I’m guessing that most of you agree in theory, but to really see that it’s a problem, you need an example.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, etc. are DANGEROUS drugs.  These popular antibiotics, 26.9 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolones were written in 2011 (per the FDA), can cause damage to connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fascia, etc.) throughout the body, damage to the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic), and more.  They disrupt and damage mtDNA, cause mitochondrial malfunction and increase oxidative stress throughout the body.  They cause a massive decrease in important antioxidants like glutatione and superoxide dismutase (SOD) and increase production of lipid peroxide and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that result in cell death.  CELL DEATH.  There is no known cure or treatment for those who are suffering from the adverse effects of these drugs.

When someone does have an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone antibiotic (again, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, etc.) it can be devastating.  In 2001 Dr. Jay S. Cohen did a study on those who are suffering from severe Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome and he noted that:

“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.”

On my 32nd birthday I took Cipro to treat a urinary tract infection.  It damaged me.  I experienced peripheral neuropathy (an effect that the FDA just acknowledged on August 15, 2013 – http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm365050.htm) that made it painful to walk for months, my tendons were weakened and inflamed for a year, I lost my memory, concentration and reading comprehension, I suffered from anxiety and depression, I have heart palpitations and my heart rate has increased.

I was lucky.

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Greg wasn’t as lucky as me.  3 years after taking Cipro for the third time (his reaction was minimal the first two times) he is still unable to walk more than a couple hundred yards because his tendons have disintegrated and torn.  For years after having an adverse reaction to Cipro, he used an electric scooter to get around (a traditional wheelchair isn’t an option when the tendons in your arms are torn too.)  He has had to leave his profession as a professor.  He continues to struggle with his health on a daily basis.

25 year old Zachary says of his condition after taking Cipro, “My tendons, cartilage and nervous system have been chemically torn apart from the inside out. The pain that this causes me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is excruciating beyond words and I have suffered through it without reprieve, alone, for almost half a year now. I have gone from being nearly 190 lbs, a martial arts teacher and body builder to under 160 lbs, crippled, unable to exercise at all and barely able to walk most of the time; all because I was given a drug that I never needed, that no one really needs, for a suspected infection.”

Though these three examples are of the damage done by Cipro, the other fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Levaquin, Avelox and a few less commonly used ones, are just as devastating.

One woman posted in one of the fluoroquinolone toxicity support groups that if she were an animal, she would get put down.  Think about that for a second.  She is a person, a daughter, maybe a mother and a wife, who thinks that the most humane thing to do is to put her down.  That’s how tortured she feels.  Of course, we don’t put down people and I’m not advocating that we do, I just think that it illustrates the point of how damaging and cruel these drugs are to their victims.

Zach’s words are illustrative of the inhumane torture that people feel when they are suffering from an acute adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone, “The pain that this causes me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is excruciating beyond words and I have suffered through it without reprieve.”  That is torture.  It’s cruel and it’s wrong.  We know that torture is wrong when it comes to prisoners of war, yet when Bayer and Johnson & Johnson chemically torture people we call it “side-effects” and look the other way.  It’s not okay though.  There is nothing that is okay about innocent people having system-wide breakdowns that are torturous, cruel and unnecessary.

You may be thinking, out of 26.9 million prescriptions, only a handful of people have been disabled by it, that’s okay.  But think about it, is it really okay?  Even if the number of people who are severely adversely affected by these drugs is small, and I would argue that it’s not, is it really okay for an ANTIBIOTIC to cause people to be disabled and to suffer?  The people who have been hurt by these drugs have lost so much of themselves – their ability to move, their ability to think, their ability to relate to other people, their livelihood, etc.  They lost these things when there were other, safer, drugs available that could have gotten rid of their infection.  No other class of antibiotics even has the potential for this much harm.  Penicillins, tetracyclines, cephalosporins – they’re not perfect, but they won’t cause a long-lasting, severe syndrome that tears apart connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc.) and damages the nervous systems (central, peripheral, autonomic).

Greg, Zachary and I are collateral damage, but we didn’t need to be.  The damage done to us could have been prevented.  A safer alternative drug could have, and should have, been given to us.  We could have been properly warned of the dangers of these drugs before they were administered.  A protocol could have been established to determine whether or not these drugs were absolutely necessary before the prescription was written.  Suffering could have been diminished with the use of a safer alternative drug.

It is a tragedy that people are needlessly suffering from preventable adverse reactions to unnecessarily strong and dangerous drugs.  Please be compassionate toward those who are hurt.  Please shift your thinking from, “all drugs have side-effects” to “side-effects should be minimized in every way possible because they are unacceptable.”  Just as importantly, please don’t become a victim yourself.  Don’t take Cipro, Levaquin or Avelox.  There are safe alternatives in almost every situation.

In closing, here are some wonderfully scathing words of Zachary’s on the topic of fluoroquinolones:

“Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have no place in the practice of medicine unless you agree that experimenting on human beings by irreversibly altering their DNA with purposefully unpredictable results and thus indefinitely crippling them unwittingly is something that falls under the definition of “health.” I’m thinking more in terms of “nauseatingly inhumane,” but that’s just me.”

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23 thoughts on ““Side Effects” or collateral damage? Is there a difference?

  1. Ms. A July 10, 2014 at 9:27 am Reply

    I couldn’t agree more! And the fact that the majority of the medical profession won’t acknowledge the danger and still routinely prescribe them, is abominable!

    • Lisa Bloomquist July 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm Reply

      Yes, it is. Abominable is the right word – the whole thing is abominable.

  2. Bob July 10, 2014 at 10:38 am Reply

    You say it so well Lisa. I took Cipro a year ago and still don’t know if I will be able to keep working. The pain every day is terrible. All this is for a “probable” bacterial infection. The doctor said “You’ll feel better in 3 days.” That is how he hooked me. I have not had a day without pain since. There is no other conclusion that the FDA is part of a criminal conspiracy with the pharmaceutical industry. As I read somewhere that I don’t remember, those so called “side effects” are not side effects at all,m they are THE EFFECTS of the drug for a large number of people. It’s just like the civilians killed and injured in drone attacks overseas. We are collateral damage, We don’t matter to anyone making a profit or aiding and abetting them. I got an acupuncture treatment yesterday and the doctor’s wife told me she was hospitalized for 6 days and bedridden for 6 months from Cipro. This is acceptable to the FDA. I have called and talked to them. One FDA employee told me: “If so many people are hurt by the drug why don’t they tell us?” Maybe they are to sick to fill out your goddam forms was my response. Of course the doctor won’t report it because he doesn’t even believe you.. I believe the injuries are far more numerous that they say. I asked the pharmacist before I took the stuff. She said they are “very rare.” I urge everyone affected to check out joining the lawsuit being brought about by Barron & Budd and Ryan Clarkson. I’f we do nothing these bastards will injure thousands more and when they are called out they will feign ignorance.

    • Lisa Bloomquist July 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm Reply

      Amen, Bob!

      I can’t say that I think that it’s a criminal conspiracy – but it’s close enough – entrenched conflicts of interest dominated by greed is my take. 6 / half dozen. The system is broken because of the lack of checks and balances and we get to pay the price for it. It’s beyond wrong.

      I sincerely hope that one of the lawsuits makes them change. There is nothing okay about the situation as it is now.

      Sorry for your pain.

      Thanks, doc, for the bomb that went off in your cells, huh?

  3. Jan Bush July 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm Reply

    Very important information here. If everyone reading this makes a copy and sends to their physician perhaps a few minds could be changed. I’m willing to take this step!

  4. Ruth Young July 12, 2014 at 5:38 am Reply

    The side effects of Cipro are pure torture. Even if everyone were as lucky as me, to suffer them for a short time, it would still be unacceptable to use this drug as a first or even secon line agent. Not only are the side effects particularly horrible, they don’t stop when you stop taking the drug. I say I am lucky to have them for a short time, but I suffered them very acutely for around two months, not quite as badly for another month or so and finally after four months really started to feel like myself. At five months I’m not fully healed, but it’s tolerable. Yet what I find tolerable now would have been completely unacceptable to me had I not went through such hell for the first couple of months. What I went through was so bad that I know I probably need help from a mental health professional to really deal with it. Sometimes I feel like I might actually be suffering from PTSD. Because my symptoms generally worsen when I relax or sleep I get afraid to relax, afraid to try to fall asleep. Getting through this experience, all the way through it, is requiring a depth of strength I never knew I had. Had the drug saved my life I would gladly accept this challenge. That it was prescribed cavalierly when other drugs would have worked as well is simply criminal, yet I have no recourse. In my state you must be completely disabled and unable to work to sue a doctor and the doctor must have done something significantly different from what other doctors would have done.

    • Debs July 20, 2014 at 10:35 am Reply

      Hi Ruth

      I am a very long term survivor of these ‘ antibiotics ‘( floxed 6 times over 25 years) & I would just like to say that you are completely correct, many of us DO suffer from a form of PTSD, it is worth seeking therapy for It, as It can help a great deal. Even a short course of Cognitive behavioural therapy CBT can help be useful, & If you feel you need it specialist counselling for PTSD, although you may need a formal diagnosis, I am not 100% sure on that aspect. I am trying to access long term counselling for myself at present.

  5. Lloyd July 12, 2014 at 9:13 am Reply

    Another great post, Lisa. Three observations immediately come to me:

    1. Our science has advanced to the point where “we know enough to be dangerous.” We can engineer drugs to enter and adduct to/destroy mitochondria, but we cannot repair this damage when it goes awry.

    2. Business interests who fund valid pharmaceutical ventures may have a conflict of interest in admitting to/encouraging research on their very profitable, but damaging medications.

    3. The average doctor is a technician, prescribing medications without fully understanding the nature of the drugs that they prescribe. They don’t know the danger. The doctor is the link between the drug and the patient; for the doctor to be in the dark on the pharmacokinetics of the compounds that they prescribe is the final straw that causes the tragic maiming of innocent people seeing medical care.

  6. Kateekat July 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm Reply

    I have come to the conclusion that doctors never think in terms of cost of the benefit. NEVER.

    I work with a pretty good doc. She mostly relies on supplements and life-style changes rather than meds – as it should be. I’m currently fighting something rather odd/unusual. It isn’t responding well; we are frustrated. So she went to write a script for a pharmaceutical. I wasn’t willing to take it. When home i did a search for a natural product. But to give her the benefit of the doubt, i also looked up the drug. That drug is contraindicated for THREE very serious issues i’m currently fighting (one of them seizures).

    Which makes me wonder – if i hadn’t refused the drug, would she have actually looked it up and seen i should not take it, or would it have simply been written assuming it would be safe for me to take to stop the symptoms we want to get rid of? Which means in the future i’m going to have a hard time trusting her advice. Again, she is a decent doc. I’ll check into her advice, but i will never trust it without checking/researching myself.

    Actually, also as should be.

    At what point did doctors become so knowledgable that we would never think to research things for ourselves? I think that one thing that the FQ fiasco should be teaching us (and hopefully we can pass this on to others) is that we should NEVER assume the doctor knows. Take the advice, sure, but research the heck out of it before following through.

  7. Mark July 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm Reply

    Lisa,

    Can you get me in contact with Zachary?

    I’m 26 and also a martial artist and heavy lifter so we have a lot in common.

    Mark

  8. bjacob131 August 3, 2015 at 7:30 am Reply

    Well written and food for thought if it gets to the right places!

  9. Lisa Cermelj August 3, 2015 at 8:43 am Reply

    Cipro has pretty much destroyed my life! I took it in April for a non-existant infection. 2x a day for 9 days. It has been 3 months and symptoms keep changing and life can be unbearable at times. The anxiety and depression are the worst. Can’t locate a doctor who can help me manage my symptoms and meet all my needs. I have seen multiple physicians in many specialty fields. Most write me off as crazy because i look healthy on the outside. This has led to my family thinking the same because the “doctors say so.” A doctor also said to take the Cipro! Wonder why I am not listening? This is criminal! If nothing else, my torture will prevent my son from ever taking this poison!

  10. Michelle August 3, 2015 at 10:18 am Reply

    Thank you for this article, I feel like a lucky one only because it mainly destroyed my digestive system it has been a year and I can eat only 10 food items up from 6! The depression anxiety heart palpitations only lasted a couple of months, followed by a feeling of dehydration for 4-6 months and limited diet for a little over a year will be 2 years in October since my floxing began levequine and steroids ruined me.

  11. M August 4, 2015 at 8:26 am Reply

    I don’t think the real % is that important Lisa. I said and I say it again: if this was a new kind of car and people would get crippled by it in the same way as they now get cripples by fluoroquinolones, the car would be called back to the factory immediately for sure, don’t you think?
    I am so very very sorry for all the people with the horrible side effects to these drugs!

    • Mark August 4, 2015 at 9:03 am Reply

      What bugs me the most M is that this goes on and on because many cipro victims just don’t try to sue their docs or scream as loud as they can to get this shit removed from the market.

      I tried hard to get people to just say fuck it let’s give those stupid doc assholes back what they gave us (in form of suing them), but most say they’re “focused on their healing” or “too weak”.
      I’m fucked up as well, a lot actually but still I kick my own butt to get up and fight to my legal possibilities. Just saying I’m confident in all of you finding the strength to unite and rise up against these mofos. The time to be respectful towards these docs is over!

      Mark

  12. Linda Livingston August 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm Reply

    I do think it is criminal conspiracy, to keep the money rolling in to big pharma. And as for Zach’s “it falls under the heading of…” I would fill in the blank with “human experimentation” or “torture” or “war crimes.”

    And Mark—I’m with you. I still have major breathing problems, vision problems, horrible fatiguqe, anxiety depression, but I am contacting lawyers like crazy, sending letters to goverment agencies, the white house (3x), congress, even atty general loretta lynch. We HAVE to make a lot of noise, or yet another decade will pass with nothing done.

  13. CATRYNA WHITE March 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm Reply

    I am extremely sensitive to Pharmaceuticals, to the point of having reactions to others in the same household, who are on meds. I reacted severely to my mother’s Coumadin years ago. I was dispensing them to her and was touching them. and developed a black sore on my back, calf pain, migraines and my finger tips and finger nails split. The problems eventually went away when I realized what was going on and stopped touching her meds, but the finger and nail problem took a year to resolve. More recently (11-2013), my husband had to take Cipro for 3 weeks. I reacted with headache, intestinal problems and within two months Pelvic Prolapse. I had to have surgery to have it repaired. Within 3 months after the surgery, (11-2014) the prolapse reoccurred, this time after coming in contact with our daughter (living in same household), who was prescribed Cipro for Ramsay Hunt syndrome (Shingles in the inner ear). I could not believe this was a coincidence and did research finding out all manner of horrible things resulting in these fluoroquinolone antibiotics. As a result of my research I found a correlation between women over 60 years of age, fluoroquinolone antibiotics and pelvic prolapse. To have this happen to an individual, not once but twice in less than year, is irreprehensible. This drug crosses the blood/brain barrier and has caused dementia and brain damage to many. One person, the mother of a friend of mine, died because of the effects on her brain. These Pharmaceutical companies need to be shut down and those responsible for them sent to prison.

    • Linda March 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm Reply

      Yep—all involved should be charged with crimes against humanity, including those culpable in the FDA. They’ve all known for DECADES. Keep screaming. (I hope no one in your family will EVER take any of these drugs. Find natural alternatives when you can.)

  14. Steven March 28, 2016 at 11:30 am Reply

    I hope after people get properly compensated, if ever possible, that the creators of these drugs crumble for obvious slow moving genoside. I live in pain and still hope for good for all humans affected by greedy masterminds. Our Families pay too. God help us.

    • Linda March 28, 2016 at 11:49 am Reply

      Yes, Steven I hope all involved, whether at the big pharm companies, or the FDA are brought to justice. I have sent letters to the world court in the hague because I truly believe these are crimes against humanity.

  15. Steven March 28, 2016 at 9:45 pm Reply

    I hope Baron and Budd help me, and I plan to fight for others to my last breath. Question is, before I get it rolling, just what all do I hammer them for. Peripheral motorsensory neuropothy? When we have damage from the ground up or vice versa, will they fight for all of that succesfully? That has me wondering lately. My Doctor is fairly convinced but it’s new to Her and I don’t want to drag Her into that. I was hoping our proof of past list of symptoms, visits, plus amount that I took, would prove a lot. Maybe not enough. Either way I hope it works, because my whole Family is not happy and wondering. Either way I can only move forward. God made us to walk in a forward direction and as Arthur Blessitt said, Run in the direction You should go. If You can’t run, then jog, and if You can’t jog, then walk, and if You can’t walk, then crawl, and if You can’t crawl, You fall in the direction You should go. I’ll wait for a response in the morning and more power to.

    • Linda March 28, 2016 at 9:55 pm Reply

      Unfortunately those who took generics are not able to sue. So I sued the dr and pharmacy for failure to warn. I am without an attorney and filed the complaint myself ,but I still need an attorney. IT is just getting too much for me. What they will want Steven is A LOT—doctors saying yes, it is from the drugs (causation), proof your were hurt by it (injury) that you were owed a certain duty of care and that duty was breached. If Barron and Budd agreed to take your case, you are way ahead of the game

  16. Steven Weyenberg March 29, 2016 at 12:31 pm Reply

    Thanks for the message Linda. I was figuring it would not be an easy road either way. I intend to find out more about the generic thing as it should not matter. I’m assuming the generics have the same junk in them too. Including flourides/whatever else. I was wondering heavy about this for quite some time. If there is a trusting contact that is fighting to prove levafloxin/etc generics, I have hope for, and try what I can whatever it be. I just now got back to the message board here cause of the morning drag thing. I made a turmuric/whatever else concauction last night and if I don’t keep water in me, which is tough accomplish, then come morning I feel like a pile of bricks is on me mostly my legs. I’m sure You see what I mean. I had a virus causing things as a child, thoracic outlet syndrome X2 with two ribs removed/scar tissue, sprayed on in the country over a period of time by crop dusters, and now at least Levaquin 750mg x5 since early 2000. I feel everyone’s pain in a way, and if I could take it on to myself from them all I would. If one or some, has Family hardship, it all does add to a great deal of dispair. My Brother took His life and also when I couldn’t be there for Him because of sickness, and the wrong diet due to the meds. I wanted to go myself but between a rock (MY Family), and a hard place(wanting to die), what he’ll it brought. So yeah this and more, I appreciate a response. I need to do it for my Wife and kids if not me. God Bless always and everywhere.

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