The most commonly prescribed fluoroquinolones are Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin, and Floxin/ofloxacin. Almost every “floxie” that has been poisoned by fluoroquinolones in the last 15 years has taken Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin, or Floxin/ofloxacin. However, there are many other quinolones and fluoroquinolones that have been developed. Here is a list:
- cinoxacin (Cinobac) – withdrawn from the market
- nalidixic acid (NegGram, Wintomylon) – withdrawn from the market
- oxolinic acid (Uroxin) – withdrawn from the market
- piromidic acid (Panacid) – withdrawn from the market
- pipemidic acid (Dolcol) – withdrawn from the market
- rosoxacin (Eradacil) – withdrawn from the market
- ciprofloxacin (Cipro) -Still on the market. Millions of prescriptions dispensed annually worldwide.
- enoxacin (Enroxil, Penetrex) – withdrawn from the market
- fleroxacin (Megalone, Roquinol) – withdrawn from the market
- lomefloxacin (Maxaquin) – withdrawn from the market
- nadifloxacin (Acuatim, Nadoxin, Nadixa) – withdrawn from the market
- norfloxacin (Lexinor, Noroxin, Quinabic, Janacin) – withdrawn from the market
- ofloxacin (Floxin, Oxaldin, Tarivid) – Still on the market. Millions of prescriptions dispensed annually worldwide.
- pefloxacin (Peflacine) – withdrawn from the market
- rufloxacin (Uroflox) – withdrawn from the market
- balofloxacin (Baloxin) – withdrawn from the market
- grepafloxacin (Raxar) – withdrawn from the market
- levofloxacin (Leflox, Cravit, Levaquin, Tavanic) – Still on the market. Millions of prescriptions dispensed annually worldwide.
- pazufloxacin (Pasil, Pazucross) – withdrawn from the market
- sparfloxacin (Zagam) – withdrawn from the market
- temafloxacin (Omniflox) – withdrawn from the market
- tosufloxacin (Ozex, Tosacin) – withdrawn from the market
- clinafloxacin – Not withdrawn from market, but not commonly available
- gatifloxacin (Zigat, Tequin) – Tequin removed from the U.S. market, but other forms remain available.
- gemifloxacin (Factive) – Currently available. More commonly prescribed outside of the U.S.
- moxifloxacin (Acflox Woodward, Avelox,Vigamox) – Still on the market. Millions of prescriptions dispensed annually worldwide.
- sitafloxacin (Gracevit) – withdrawn from the market
- trovafloxacin (Trovan) – withdrawn from the market
- prulifloxacin (Quisnon) – withdrawn from the market
Despite the fact that 22 of the 29 quinolones listed above have been removed from the market, and the fact that there is an updated black box warning label (the most serious warning possible on a pharmaceutical), that notes that the fluoroquinolones remaining on the market can cause permanent disability, several pharmaceutical companies are busily developing new fluoroquinolones.
Some of the fluoroquinolones in development include:
- Delafloxacin (Baxdela) – Delafloxacin/Baxdela is being developed by Melinta Therapeutics, and is currently undergoing Phase III trials. It is supposed to be more effective at treating MRSA and other bacterial infections that are currently resistant to other fluoroquinolones. Melinta says that delafloxacin/Baxdela has a “favorable safety profile,” but, frankly, I don’t believe them. Bayer says that Cipro has an excellent safety profile, but thousands of people have been injured, disabled, and killed by it. Delafloxacin/Baxdela will be effective against gram-positive, gram-negative, atypical and anaerobic bacteria–meaning that it will be a broad-spectrum antibiotic that will kill all microorganisms in its path. I understand that MRSA is a serious, and potentially deadly infection, and that it may be appropriate to use an extra-powerful fluoroquinolone in cases of life-or-death. However, as an extra-strong fluoroquinolone, with an increased scope of bacteria that it kills, it will be a dangerous, and deadly for some, drug. I hope that delafloxacin/Baxdela will be reserved for treating life-threatening MRSA infections, and that it will not be prescribed for treatment of simpler or less dangerous infections.
- JNJ-2Q – JNJ-2Q is being developed by Furiex Pharmaceuticals, who have licensed JNJ-Q2 from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. Like delafloxacin/Baxdela, JNJ-2Q is being developed for the treatment of MRSA, and it is also a particularly strong and potent fluoroquinolone. Again, I hope that it is only used for deadly MRSA infections.
- Nemonoxacin (Taigexyn) – Nemonoxacin/Taigexyn, developed by TaiGen Biotechnology Company, is currently undergoing phase III trials in the U.S. However, it has already reached the market in Taiwan, Russia, Commonwealth Independent States, Turkey, mainland China, and Latin America. It is also more effective against MRSA than the fluoroquinolones that are currently on the market, and it is more potent than ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and moxifloxacin. Not-so-fun-fact – Nemonoxacin has been fast-tracked for approval by the FDA.
- Zabofloxacin – Zabofloxacin was discovered by Dong Wha Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Pacific Beach BioSciences for development. It is currently undergoing clinical trials. “The spectrum of activity of zabofloxacin includes bacterial strains that are responsible for most community-acquired respiratory infections. Phase III clinical studies are currently ongoing at Dong-Wha for the treatment of patients with acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” (source)
Be aware that these new fluoroquinolones are in the pipeline. Know their names so that you can avoid them.
I’m not sure how anyone else’s medical record works, but when I asked my doctor to put that I am allergic to fluoroquinolones on my medical record, her computer system wouldn’t allow her to do so. Instead, I had to list all of the fluoroquinolones that I wanted to avoid individually. I suggest that you tell your doctors not only that you can’t have fluoroquinolones, but that you can’t have Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin, and Floxin/ofloxacin specifically. And, when they reach the market, I suggest that you add Baxdela/delafloxacin, JNN-2Q, Taigexyn/nemonoxacin, and zabofloxacin to your list of drugs that you cannot tolerate.
I find the dissonance between the people who review drug safety, and the people that approve new drugs, both of whom are within the FDA, to be a bit mind-boggling. How could the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee decide that the current warnings on fluoroquinolones are inadequate and that they shouldn’t be prescribed for sinus infections, colitis or UTIs, or chronic bronchitis because they are too dangerous, while another part of the FDA fast-tracks the approval of Taigexyn/nemonoxacin, an even more powerful fluoroquinolone antibiotic? Do they not speak to each other? I can’t fathom that there is not at least some overlap between the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee and the people who approve new antimicrobial drugs. Are there people at the FDA who are screaming about these new fluoroquinolones that are about to enter the market, and noting that they are horribly unsafe? Or, did the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee just update the warning labels on existing fluoroquinolones to shut up patient advocates (you and me)? Is there massive cognitive dissonance at the FDA? Because it certainly appears that there is. The people at the FDA, and the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee specifically, pretend to acknowledge the dangers of fluoroquinolones, and pretend to do something about those dangers, while still thinking that it’s appropriate to approve new, stronger fluoroquinolones for public use. It’s mind-boggling.
There is constant repetition of some mantra along the lines of “fluoroquinolones have an excellent record of safety and efficacy” among drug-makers, drug-regulators, and drug prescribers – despite a massive amount of evidence to the contrary. The list of quinolones/fluoroquinolones above clearly shows that 22 of the 29 drugs have been removed from the market–many because of serious safety concerns. Yet, new, more powerful, fluoroquinolones are entering the market, in part because, for some odd reason, Cipro and Levaquin are seen as “safe.” They’re not safe though. They cause permanent disability and death. The upcoming fluoroquinolones will be worse.
I hope that the new fluoroquinolones that are coming to market are only used to treat life-threatening MRSA infections, but I have no faith that that will be the case. These new fluoroquinolones will be marketed as being bigger/better/faster/more powerful than safer alternatives, doctors will prescribe them, and patients will suffer because of them. Hopefully I’m being too pessimistic, and some prudence will be shown in the prescribing of these dangerous drugs–I doubt that though.
Just be aware of the dangers of fluoroquinolones–both old and new, and protect yourself and your loved ones. Share information about the dangers of fluoroquinolones with your friends and family, and let them know that fluoroquinolones should never be used unless there are no viable alternatives, and the infection is life-threatening. These new fluoroquinolones are more powerful, and more dangerous, than the fluoroquinolones that are currently on the market, and the ones that are on the market are pretty horrible. They should all be avoided like the plague.