A lot of awareness of fluoroquinolone toxicity has been gained in the last few years. In 2011, when I got floxed, the biggest facebook support group for “floxies” had about 600 members, news stories about fluoroquinolone toxicity were few and far between, and people seemed to be reluctant to share information about fluoroquinolones on their social media accounts. Today, the biggest facebook support group for floxies has almost 4,000 members (and many people have come and gone, so there have been more than 3,400 people who are aware enough of fluoroquinolone toxicity to join the group), news reports about the dangers of fluoroquinolones seem to come out on a weekly basis, and people are screaming about the dangers of fluoroquinolones in every way they can – through their social media accounts, telling their personal stories on web sites, commenting on news stories, and through talking to their families, friends, doctors and anyone else who will listen to them.
We’re making progress. We’re getting louder and stronger.
Even the FDA, the slow-moving behemoth that it is, has made some movement toward acknowledging the dangers of fluoroquinolones. In 2013 the warning label for fluoroquinolones was updated to note that PERMANENT peripheral neuropathy is a possible adverse effect of fluoroquinolones. The FDA stated that this change to the warning label was because of a review of AERS (Adverse Event Reporting System) data that found that many people were reporting disabling peripheral neuropathy as an effect of fluoroquinolones. AERS reports are patient reports. The FDA is listening to our screams.
The warning label change prompted a slew of lawsuits against Bayer (the maker of Cipro and Avelox) and Johnson & Johnson (maker of Levaquin), that hopefully will give some people justice and compensation for the harm that fluoroquinolones have done to them. Just having the door opened for justice is a step in the right direction – it’s progress.
In September, 2014 Dr. Charles Bennett filed two Citizen’s Petitions with the FDA asking them to change the fluoroquinolone warning labels to note “mitochondrial toxicity” and “psychiatric adverse effects.” The FDA’s response to those petitions is still pending, but the petitions themselves are valuable, both in that they are communications with the FDA, and that they give victims of fluoroquinolones credibility.
More than 60 news stories about the dangers of fluoroquinolones have aired in the last year. Each of these news stories was made possible by people reaching out to the news media. They wouldn’t have happened without people advocating for themselves and speaking up. With each news story, the word spreads about the dangers of fluoroquinolones, and the more people are aware of fluoroquinolone toxicity. With awareness of the dangers of fluoroquinolones comes avoidance of them, and that’s certainly progress.
One of the most influential news-stories about fluoroquinolones was “Local woman says popular antibiotic killed her husband” which aired on WSB-TV Atlanta. It had more than 135,000 social media shares, and Levaquin prescriptions in the Atlanta area dropped dramatically after it aired. It not only successfully spread the word about the devastating effects of fluoroquinolones, it changed prescription rates for fluoroquinolones. That’s huge! (Though, of course, it is horrible that Chris Dannelly lost his life. My eternal condolences to his family.)
A lot of progress in awareness of fluoroquinolone toxicity has been made through social media. When I first got floxed, people didn’t mention fluoroquinolone toxicity on their social media pages. There seemed to be a lot of silence, and even shame, around it. Now there are people who share information about the dangers of fluoroquinolones on their social media accounts regularly. With every “share” or “like” people are reached and progress toward awareness is made. Every little step rolls the ball in the right direction and gives us momentum. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who shares information about fluoroquinolone toxicity with their social network!
While it is sad to see the devastation that fluoroquinolones bring to every floxed individual, it is nice to see that the awareness of fluoroquinolone toxicity is reaching people, and that they are reaching out for support on facebook. The community of floxies helping and supporting each other in The Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group has grown significantly. Each person who connects their health problems to fluoroquinolones is a step toward general awareness of fluoroquinolone toxicity. Everyone who joins The Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group realizes the dangers of fluoroquinolones for themselves and their loved ones. Of course, I hate to hear of people getting hurt by fluoroquinolones, but with each new member to the group, awareness and support are gained.
Even this site has gained a lot of momentum. When it launched in 2013, Floxie Hope was getting about 5,000 visitors per month (which I was THRILLED with). Now 30,000+ visitors per month view Floxie Hope. I’m proud to be part of the movement toward awareness of the devastation that fluoroquinolones bring, and I hope to be part of movements to study fluoroquinolones and limit their use.
All of us who are telling our stories, supporting each other, and sharing information about fluoroquinolone toxicity are making progress. Thank you to all of you!
Admittedly, we have a long way to go before paradigms about the safety of fluoroquinolones shift in the general population. There are still some doctors who are giving FQs out like candy. There are still people who deny adverse effects of fluoroquinolones that are listed on the warning labels. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done. But progress has been made in the last year, and this post is to celebrate that progress. Good job, friends! Keep going!