Fluoroquinolone (FLQ) antibiotics are known as “broad spectrum antibiotics”, meaning they have the ability to treat a wide range of diseases such as respiratory and urinary tract infections caused by bacteria. They are commonly prescribed to treat inflammation caused by prostate problems. Some of the most popular are Cipro (ciproflaxin), noroxin (norfloxacin), floxin (ofloxacin), avelox (moxifloxacin), factive (gemifloxacin), and levaquin (levofloxacin).
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are currently being prescribed around 26 million times a year. The number of FLQ prescriptions every year has risen from 7 million to 22 million. The number of fluoroquinolone prescription continues to rise despite the safety warnings and lawsuits. Health experts have advised that fluoroquinolone antibiotics are supposed to be prescribed only by certified physicians. But, this at most times, experts say is not the case.
“This is a category of antibiotics used in different types of infections. They are widely abused in our environment. What happens is that because of the abuse, there is likely to be drug resistance and adverse drug reactions. Sometimes, it is used irresponsibly without doctor’s prescription,” said Dr. Adekunle Ibrahim Oreagba, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Idi-Araba – Lagos.
Studies have revealed that FLQ antibiotics contain fluoride which is neurotoxin; it is able to pass easily through sensitive tissues like the brain and the heart. The presence of fluoride is one of the factors that contribute to the dangers of FLQs.
It has been found that they can cause nerve injury, tendon damage, aortic dissection, and aortic aneurysm. These side effects can occur hours to weeks after exposure to fluoroquinolone and may potentially be permanent. Some other common side effects of fluoroquinolone antibiotics include vomiting, diarrhoea, insomnia and headache. These are common side effects of most drugs, but the serious side effects associated with FLQ are the most troubling.
According to Dr. Oreagba, “What you find is that people obtain the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics at the pharmacy store without expert advice. That is really not ideal at all. Secondly, when using fluoroquilonolone antibiotics, patients are supposed to avoid certain drugs like blood tonic. Instead of getting better they get worse due to the interaction. There are certain adverse reactions such as muscular medical disorder, joint pains, vomiting, skin rash and even Stevens-John Syndrome which is a severe case”.
“Fluoroquinolone have risks and benefits that should be considered very carefully,” said Edward Cox, M.D., director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the US FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Edward further added, “It is important that both health care providers and patients are aware of both the risks and benefits of fluoroquinolones and make an informed decision about their use.”
Generally medical experts have warned that 90 percent of antibiotics use is unnecessary. The warning is coming on the heels of the pledged by 193 UN member states to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), that has been described as one of the major health challenges currently. Antibiotic abuse has its side effects, a lot of antibiotics cause diarrhoea, allergic reactions, and if you deal with such antibiotics then you will be exposed to much more risk than benefits.