I’ve discussed the antibiotic Levaquin and its risks frequently here, from my perspective as a pharmaceutical liability attorney. Levaquin (levofloxacin) is part of a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which have come under fire for safety reasons in the past decade. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has added safety warnings to Levaquin’s packaging at least twice since 2004, including a 2008 warning that the drug increases the risk of tendonitis and spontaneous tendon ruptures, which are disabling and painful and take months to heal. This and other Levaquin serious side effects have led to thousands of lawsuits across the U.S. The first of these went to trial in Minnesota last week, Bloomberg News reported Dec. 8, and ended with a $1.1 million jury award to patient John Schedin.
Schedin, 82, received Levaquin for a respiratory infection in 2005. His attorneys said he was active for his age at the time, but that ended when he ruptured not one but both Achilles tendons. These are the tendons connecting the back of the foot with the calf, and they are an especially common site for a Levaquin-related tendon rupture. In his lawsuit, Schedin alleged that manufacturer Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn him or his doctor about the high risk of tendon ruptures, something that was fixed after the FDA ordered a black box warning three years later. This risk is higher in people over 60 and people taking steroids — both of which described Schedin — and people who are organ transplant recipients. The jury awarded Schedin $700,000 in actual damages, which are compensation for direct losses, and $400,000 more in punitive damages intended to penalize the manufacturer for deliberate disregard for patients’ safety.
As a Levaquin injury lawyer, I’m pleased that the jury decided this way, especially since the decision is likely to affect other Levaquin injury lawsuits. One juror said he and his colleagues talked seriously about the drug manufacturer’s responsibilities, especially responsibilities to warn doctors. Evidence shows that Johnson & Johnson knew about the tendon-related risks of Levaquin at least since 2001, and that those risks were higher in the elderly. Nonetheless, Schedin’s attorneys said the manufacturer didn’t send warning letters to doctors until it had to because of the 2008 black box warning. Meanwhile, Levaquin was prescribed millions of times around the world, for a total of 430 million prescriptions according to the article. In the first nine months of 2010 alone, the article said, its sales totaled $957 million. It’s not hard to imagine that a company might prefer to suppress negative information about a drug to preserve sales that size, but that’s not the right thing to do when people’s health is at risk.
Based in St. Louis, Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients from around the United States who are suing a drug manufacturer over a dangerous or defective medication. In many cases, we help clients make failure to warn claims like this one, in which we show that the manufacturer knew or should have known about a safety risk that it declined to communicate to patients, doctors or the FDA. Our defective drug attorneys represent both individuals like Schedin and people who are part of class actions, which bring together large groups of people who were injured in the same way by the same defendant. Not surprisingly, this is a common way to handle lawsuits over popular but flawed drugs like Levaquin. Our goal in every case is to help clients get the money they need to pay for medical care, make ends meet if they cannot work and be fairly compensated for permanent injuries or other consequences of side effects they never expected.
If you believe a dangerous drug is responsible for serious injuries or illness and you’d like to know more, you should talk to Carey, Danis & Lowe right away. To learn more or set up a free consultation, call us today at 1-877-678-3400 or send us an email anytime.