Trial Ends in Levaquin Injury Lawsuit Filed by Patient Who Ruptured Both Achilles Tendons

By January 25, 2012 Dangerous Drugs

I write on this blog regularly about the dangers posed by the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin), particularly for older patients and those taking certain other drugs. So, as a dangerous drug attorney, I was interested to see an article on the close of a trial in a Levaquin injury lawsuit. The trial in Minneapolis alleges that pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, which makes Levaquin, had an inadequate warning on its label about the risk of tendon rupture. This led to two ruptured Achilles tendons for Clifford Straka, now 78, just nine days after starting a Levaquin prescription for a respiratory infection in 2006. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration required J&J to add a warning about the risk of tendon ruptures to the label of the drug. No ruling was reported a day after the close of trial.
Straka was an active man when he was injured and had been an athlete when he was younger, even trying out for the Green Bay Packers. But after taking Levaquin for his respiratory infection, he suffered dual tendon ruptures that sidelined him. The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf; without it, walking is impossible or extremely painful. The risk of tendon rupture with Levaquin’s class of antibiotics has been known and reported on the label since the 1990s, but the label did not carry a warning highlighting the special risk to older patients until 2007 and again in 2008, when a “black box” warning was added. This was insufficient when Levaquin was prescribed for Straka and may still play down the risks, the lawsuit said. J&J argued that the label had always been sufficient.
Straka’s lawsuit is the third to go to trial in Minnesota and one of more than 3,700 Levaquin injury lawsuits across the United States. The first, decided in 2010, ended in a jury verdict of $1.8 million for the patient. As a Levaquin injury lawyer, I’m pleased to see more cases in the news, because each report helps raise awareness that the drug is not always safe. As this lawsuit outlines in detail, the research on the relationship between Levaquin and tendon ruptures stretches back to before the drug was approved in the United States. Watchdog group Public Citizen petitioned the FDA for any warning at all in the 1990s. Despite evidence of as much as three times the risk of tendon rupture in the elderly, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the label was updated to mention such a connection — and even then, it subordinated age to corticosteroid use until 2007.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent clients across the United States who have suffered serious injuries because they took Levaquin or another prescription drug. Most patients believe drugs wouldn’t be sold, and doctors wouldn’t prescribe them, if they weren’t safe. Unfortunately, as Straka and many other patients across the country can testify, that’s frequently not true. Drug makers that want to protect the profits and profit potential of their drugs sometimes not only downplay the risks of their drugs, but take active steps to suppress negative information and research or even plant positive information through ghostwritten medical journal articles and company-sponsored studies. When these flawed drugs hurt or even kill someone, our pharmaceutical liability attorneys help victims hold the drug makers legally liable for their failure to make the risks clear.


If you or someone you love was hurt by Levaquin or another dangerous pharmaceutical, Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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