As a Levaquin injury attorney, I was interested to read about a jury verdict that came down in favor of Levaquin (levofloxacin) maker Johnson & Johnson. According to Bloomberg News, a New Jersey jury decided this month that the manufacturer had not failed to adequately warn patients about Levaquin’s risk of tendon problems. The decision rejects the claims of Robert Beare and Paul Gaffney, both of whom had an Achilles tendon snap after they took Levaquin, leaving them unable to walk. The dispute was not over whether Levaquin caused the injuries, which are a known risk of the drug, but over whether the warnings on the drug’s label were sufficient. The case was at least the third case to go to trial on similar claims, but Johnson & Johnson faces more than 2,600 lawsuits over Levaquin across the United States.
Levaquin is a flouroquinolone antibiotic, a class of drugs used when other antibiotics have failed, but which carry varying degrees of risk for tendonitis and tendon injuries. In 2008, after more than a decade of requests from activists, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required all flouroquinolones to carry a black box warning, the agency’s strongest, about the risk of tendon damage. The risk is especially high in people taking corticosteroid drugs, certain transplant patients and patients over age 60. Gaffney is 67 and Beare is 72. Both were originally prescribed Levaquin to treat sinus infections that developed into pneumonia, and both required surgery in order to walk again after their tendons snapped. Their attorneys argued that Johnson & Johnson knew Levaquin posed the highest risk of tendon rupture of any flouroquinolone antibiotic, but failed to say so, depriving doctors and patients of needed information. But the jury sided with the manufacturer, which argued that it was not federally required to make that warning.
Unfortunately, the jury was right. As a dangerous drug lawyer, I know very well that there’s a difference between what the FDA requires and the information needed to help patients and doctors make well-informed decisions about their care. And thanks to recent Supreme Court rulings, it has become easier than ever for drug manufacturers to argue that they should not be held responsible for any actions that stay within federal regulatory boundaries. Ideally, the FDA would respond to this by tightening its regulations, but past history suggests that this is unlikely. For example, for flouroquinolone antibiotics, the FDA said in 1995 that it would add warnings about tendon rupture to the drugs’ labels; name-brand drugs got those warnings in 2008, 13 years later. Histories like this make it difficult to trust that federal regulators are enough to protect the public.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we help victims of severe drug injuries by holding drug manufacturers responsible for selling defective and dangerous products. This includes cases of failure to warn about a serious risk, like that of Levaquin, but also of drugs that were defective in the first place or negligently treated. We take medications our doctors prescribe because we trust that they will help, but sometimes that trust is misplaced. When it is, patients can suffer real harm — an injury or a serious illness, sometimes turning into a new lifelong health problem. In a lawsuit, our defective drug attorneys can help patients claim money for all the medical costs of the injury and any related financial costs, such as losing a job. You can also claim compensation for your pain, emotional suffering, loss of quality of life and more.
If you believe you were hurt by a prescription drug you thought you could trust, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400.
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