Fluoroquinolones, including Levaquin, Ciprofloxacin, and Avelox, are a class of antibiotics used to treat a range of infections. These drugs have a range of unfortunate possible side effects, including the fact that they can make your tendons snap off. You can now add them to the list of prescription medications used for a range of things from acne to asthma to prophylaxis against infections that “If They Don’t Kill You They Will Drive You Crazy.” They cause neuropsychiatric side effects, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, and psychosis. The mechanism is thought to be related to delayed mitochondrial injury, although they also have effects on neurotransmitter systems involved in mood and anxiety like GABA. In 2015 the FDA recommended a product label change to include “FQ-induced disability” which is a multi-system degenerative disorder. Studies in animals also showed that these drugs affected neuron formation in the hippocampus, which plays a role in both mood and learning and memory.
As of 2015 there were 133 reported completed suicides on fluoroquinolones, 133 suicide attempts, and 348 cases of suicidality reported to the FDA Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS). Since these are felt to represent less than 10% of actual cases, that means there are probably 1,330 completed suicides.
You can see me talk about the drug industry and our film “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” loosely based on my experiences as an expert witness in litigation related to psychiatric side effects of medications, including suicide and depression, here.