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Levaquin Litigation History

Levaquin peripheral neuropathy lawsuits demanded compensation for injuries caused by this drug against the drug makers. The plaintiffs were victims who took Levaquin and now suffer from peripheral neuropathy, a painfully debilitating injury that causes nerve damage.

These started as lawsuits for tendon injuries. Those were soon replaced by claims that Levaquin causes peripheral neuropathy, aortic aneurysm, and aortic dissection.

There may also be some medical malpractice cases for overprescribing fluoroquinolones. Today, it is clear that doctors ignore the risks when prescribing these drugs.

This post is a mix of 2024 updates and original content.

Our lawyers are not taking these cases in 2024.

2024 Update

An Oklahoma appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a Levaquin lawsuit against Janssen related to the antibiotic’s prolonged side effects. The 10th Circuit found that the lawsuit was filed outside the state’s two-year statute of limitations for negligence and product liability claims.

The plaintiff began treatment for severe peripheral neuropathy the same month she was prescribed Levaquin but didn’t initiate her lawsuit until over a decade later. Her lawsuit alleged that Janssen’s failure to include adequate information in Levaquin labels concerning its side effects – in her case, peripheral neuropathy – did not allow her to make an informed choice to take the drug.

The woman acted as her own lawyer on the appeal, which is no easy feat.

What Is Levaquin Used For?

Levaquin, along with Cipro and the generic drug levofloxacin, are antibiotics primarily used to treat specific bacterial infections of the lung, sinus, skin, and urinary tract. Antibiotics, as we all know,  are used to fight bacteria but are ineffective against viruses.

Antibiotic resistance is a significant public health concern, and overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Levaquin was marketed as a cure-all for infectious diseases, which many thought misled and misinformed the medical community and the public.

Fluoroquinolones, including Levaquin, were developed to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but their overuse led to increased fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria. Concerns about antibiotic misuse led to task forces and labeling changes, but fluoroquinolone prescribing continued to increase, potentially leading to more resistant bacteria.

Levaquin was a highly successful antibiotic drug marketed by Johnson & Johnson and its affiliates, which generated billions of dollars in revenue. The drug was aggressively marketed, and its indications were expanded over time. Our lawyers have had it prescribed for bronchitis because Levaquin and Cipro were generally thought to be among the best antibiotics available by tablet or injection.

No one is worried that these drugs don’t work for most people. They do. But they come with real risks that these drug makers refuse to highlight.

In 2018, Janssen Pharmaceuticals decided to stop making Levaquin. It will still be available generically as levofloxacin. Not for nothing, generic drug manufacturers are much harder to sue.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral means away from the center of the body. Neuropathy is an impairment of the nerves. Putting the two together, peripheral neuropathy is a nerve injury that involves the hands or feet. This condition can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the longest nerves in the body.

So peripheral neuropathy is a nerve dysfunction that generally innervates the arms and legs. These peripheral nerves are differentiated from the central nerves from the brain and spinal cord. Outside the spinal cord are the nerve trunks and then, ultimately, the peripheral nerves. These tend to be smaller nerves, but they are still essential nerves that wreak havoc on the body when they are compromised.

Who Makes Levaquin?

Levaquin, a brand-name antibiotic, is manufactured by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals (part of Johnson & Johnson). Vistakon Pharmaceuticals manufactures generic levofloxacin. Cipro is manufactured by Bayer/Schering. What do J&J and Bayer have in common? They both make a ton of money and are regular players in product liability cases.

What Is The Status of Levaquin Litigation?

The Levaquin lawsuits, which emerged prominently in the late 2000s and early 2010s, were part of a larger wave of litigation against the manufacturers of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, including Levaquin (levofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), and Avelox (moxifloxacin). Patients filed these lawsuits claiming they suffered severe side effects from taking these medications, such as tendon damage and rupture, peripheral neuropathy (long-term nerve damage), and other severe adverse effects.

Levaquin got through an MDL for tendon injuries. (2024 Update: We no longer take tendon injuries or other Levaquin claims.) Throughout that litigation, evidence was discovered suggesting that Levaquin’s drug maker knew as early as 1996—and certainly by 2001—that this drug could cause peripheral neuropathy and failed to do anything about it.

There were many claims against J&J involving Levaquin. But, ultimately, this was a warning case. The warning label for Levaquin from September 2004 through August 2013 downplayed the risk of peripheral neuropathy. It said peripheral neuropathy after Levaquin use was rare and could be reversed by discontinuing the drug. But the real truth may be that these problems are not all that rare, and peripheral neuropathy is irreversible even if the patient stops taking the drug.

Today, the label says that cases of “sensory or sensorimotor axonal polyneuropathy affecting small and/or large axons resulting in paresthesias, hypoesthesias, dysesthesias, and weakness have been reported in patients receiving fluoroquinolones, including levofloxacin.

Symptoms may occur soon after levofloxacin is initiated and may be irreversible. Levofloxacin should be discontinued immediately if the patient experiences symptoms of neuropathy, including pain, burning, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness or other alterations of sensation, including light touch, pain, temperature, position sense, and vibratory sensation.

Do I Have a Levaquin Claim?

Our law firm is not taking new cases, partly because the statute of limitations has passed on many of these claims.

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