A Missouri man who took the antibiotic Tequin is suing Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Schering Corporation for blood sugar problems he developed while taking the drug. Patrick Bills alleges that he developed both hyperglycemia and new onset diabetes while taking Tequin for a skin infection.
Tequin, a once-popular antibiotic, was introduced by Bristol Myers Squibb in 1999 to treat bacterial infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, urinary tract infections and sinusitis. By 2001, 3.3 million prescriptions were being written every year in the US for Tequin. It was that same year that researchers began noticing that Tequin could play havoc with blood sugar levels. Between April 2002 and March 2004, researchers at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto followed 1.4 million patients aged 66 years and older. The researches found that 788 of those patients had to be treated for dangerously low or high blood sugar within 30 days of Tequin therapy. The research found that there was a four times greater risk of life-threatening blood sugar problems among patients treated with Tequin. When the Canadian study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, it found that previously-healthy Tequin users had a 17-percent higher chance of developing serious diabetes.
According to a press release issued by his attorneys, Bills began taking Tequin in 2005 for a skin infection. Shortly after, he began experiencing symptoms like extreme thirst, frequent urination and vision changes. In January 2006, Bills was diagnosed with sever hyperglycemia and diabetes. The lawsuit contends that Bills’ illnesses are a direct result of his treatment with Tequin. The suit claims that before taking the antibiotic, Bills had been healthy, and had not experienced any symptoms related to blood sugar problems.
The lawsuit alleges that Bristol-Meyers Squibb ignored mounting evidence of blood sugar problems related to Tequin. It wasn’t until February 2006 that, under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, the company added a warning label that Tequin should not be taken by diabetics. But the company did not address potential problems for non-diabetics. In May 2006, Bristol-Meyers Squibb announced to its shareholders that it was taking Tequin off the market. Bills’ lawsuit charges that this move was made with little public fanfare, and that Tequin that had already been shipped was allowed to remain on pharmacy shelves. The complaint also alleges that physicians were not given adequate warning by the company and continued to write prescriptions for Tequin.
The lawsuit lists nine different counts against the pharmaceutical company and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages for Bills.