Levaquin, Cipro and other medications are part of a family of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, which are commonly used to treat infections. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a black box warning, the agency’s most serious type of warning, to include the risk of ruptured tendons and nerve damage. Recent reports, however, suggest that the medications may be linked to another side effect: mitochondrial toxicity.
Mitochondria are responsible for cellular respiration, and generate the energy molecule ATP. Mitochondrial toxicity decreases the number of mitochondria and can impair cell function. “Mitochondria, they are the gas tank,” said Dr. Charles Bennett, a drug researcher with the University of South Carolina. “You have no mitochondria, that means there is no gas in the tank and your body cannot function.” Dr. Bennett filed a petition with the FDA last summer calling for the warning to be expanded.
According to ABC Action News, a search of the FDA database shows that Levaquin, Cipro and other similar drugs are linked to 3,000 reports of deaths and 200,000 complaints. An FDA spokesperson told ABC Action News, “We are considering the matters raised by the petition and giving it our careful attention,”