Here is a link to the trailer for The East – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHpT9B7e7-Q#
I saw the movie “The East” on Saturday night. About a third of it is about floxing. It’s not about the pros and cons of fluoroquinolones – it’s about the damage that fluoroquinolones can do – floxing. In case you think that I’m projecting and imagining things, here’s a link to a Huffington Post interview with Brit Marling, the lead actress and co-writer of “The East” saying that, indeed, the pharmaceuticals that the villainous Diaoxin (or Danoxin, or something like that. Please excuse the lack of memory – I am still a Floxie) is modeled after is fluoroquinolones – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/brit-marling-the-east_n_3354665.html. Fun fact – she got the idea for using fluoroquinolones as an example of a pharmaceutical drug with horrifying side effects from watching the PBS Frontline segment on fluroquinolones, Levaquin specifically – http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june11/antibiotics_06-16.html. Go PBS, Frontline, Jenne Wilcox, John Fratti and all the other people involved in the Frontline piece! You rock!
And a HUGE THANK YOU to Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij, Ellen Page, Fox Searchlight Pictures and everyone involved in making The East for highlighting fluoroquinolones and the damage that they do! Thousands of people who have been harmed by these drugs will undoubtedly thank you. You never know, maybe The East will inspire change in the production or distribution of fluoroquinolones and the film will save lives. It’s entirely possible. THANK YOU! (Assuming that they are not actually going to read my blog, I intend to actually write them thank you notes.)
The movie is a work of fiction, quite obviously, and I’m sure that they didn’t want to get into legal trouble, so instead of calling the culprit drugs by their real names (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and Larium), they call it Diaoxin. All of the symptoms of the fake Diaoxin are real symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity. They include:
- Central Nervous System Damage, specifically brain damage
- Tendon Damage
I’m sure that there were other symptoms too that were either implied more subtly or that I don’t remember. Toby Kebbell, who played the character of Doc, did an excellent job at playing a Floxie, with the nuance that implied the many different ailments that Floxies, unfortunately, suffer from.
Some other things that they got right in the movie that should be noted are the delayed onset of symptoms, the fact that a lawsuit is impossible, or at least difficult, because the side-effects are listed on the package insert, that these drugs are being given to our armed forces in massive quantities, that these drugs are toted as a miracle cure for anthrax, that these drugs are commonly used in Africa (and other places in the world where malaria is common) to treat traveler’s diarrhea and malaria, etc. Really, they did an awesome job at portraying as complete a picture as possible of fluoroquinolones and their toxicity.
I have seen a couple of reviews that criticize the movie as being unrealistic. One critic, Kyle Smith of the New York Post wrote, incredulously, “This drug, by the way, will within days (take your pick) cripple you, cause seizures and/or give you brain damage — yet somehow it earns billions in profits because no one but the terrorists has noticed all of this. (Shouldn’t their beef be with the FDA for approving the drug?)” – (http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/the_east_lacks_direction_qLIX80cFcmWnXxs5prD5HL) Mr. Smith, if I didn’t live it, I wouldn’t believe it. I wish that I was still a believer in the medical system, as you obviously are. But this attitude of worshiping the medical system and insisting that it can’t be broken is, unfortunately, actually contributing to its destruction. Listening to people’s stories, because they matter, and doing what is possible to fix the situation, will do more to save the medical system than the woefully underfunded and inept FDA is even remotely capable of. And don’t for a second think that the real people who have really been effected by these real drugs don’t have a beef with the FDA. WE DO!
The East is a fairly mainstream movie that is getting generally good reviews. People are going to see it. Most people will assume that the drug is entirely fake and that the symptoms are made up and too horrifying to believe. I only wish that was the case.
I hope that The East will encourage public dialogue about fluoroquinolones and the harm that they can do. Maybe that dialogue can keep people from being hurt in the future. Let us hope.