Then I got sick. I got sick because a prescription pharmaceutical, an antibiotic no less (Cipro), hurt me. I was poisoned by a prescription drug that is considered to have an “enviable record of safe and efficacious use.” (1) I started screaming about how it’s not okay to take away people’s ability to walk, sleep, work, etc. to treat their sinus or urinary tract infections. I started screaming about how fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin and a few other less commonly used drugs) are dangerous and over-prescribed. I started researching how fluoroquinolones work and was appalled to find that they dismantle and disrupt replication of DNA. I began making connections between the side-effects the fluoroquinolones, and the various diseases that fluoroquinolone toxicity mimics.
Diseases of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity
Fluoroquinolones cause peripheral neuropathy (2), peripheral neuropathy could easily be mistaken for Fibromyalgia. Fluoroquinolones cause destruction of tendons (3) and cartilage (4), both of which are found in the joints, and thus fluroquinolone toxicity could be misdiagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Fluoroquinolones have many psychological side-effects including anxiety, depression and even psychosis (5), and thus they may be connected lead to psychiatric disorders. I found a study that connected topoisomerase interrupting drugs (6) (fluoroquinolones are topoisomerase interrupters (7), along with several chemotherapy drugs) with Autism. A conspiracy theorist was born.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics can take an acute infection and convert it into a chronic illness (Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome). The new, chronic illness likely will be misdiagnosed and not recognized as a drug side effect, and the treatment of the misdiagnosed disease often leads to prescriptions for additional drugs. And, even though that line of thinking leads to more profits for Big Pharma, I don’t think that it’s a conspiracy. I don’t think that it’s intentional, even on the part of the companies that initiate and perpetuate it, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Though making people chronically ill through an antibiotic that is viewed as benign by almost everyone is convenient and profitable for them, I don’t think that it’s their intention. Perhaps I’m naive.
Somewhere between naively believing that Bayer and J&J have no idea what they’re doing, and pessimistically believing they are poisoning us all to turn us into lifelong customers, lies the truth.
The Truth about Fluoroquinolones
The truth, especially when dealing with something as complicated and multifaceted as biochemistry, cellular biology and genetics, is very difficult to comprehend. But the fact that it is too difficult for most of us to understand does not mean that there is no truth. The correct answers are probably not the easiest answers. They don’t fit into a box of good or evil. They aren’t linear. The truth about fluoroquinolones involves inconvenient things like delayed reactions, tolerance thresholds, system-wide cellular destruction that results in a wide array of disease states, enzyme depletion, etc. The truth about fluoroquinolones defies common sense because our common sense tells us that antibiotics are benign, that drug side-effects are rare, that when side-effects happen they’re treatable and transient, etc. That “common sense” approach, unfortunately, is not the truth.
The truth is that fluoroquinolones disrupt and dismantle DNA. This has been shown repeatedly. Per a 1998 study entitled “The Mechanism of Inhibition of Topoisomerase IV by Quinolone Antibacterials,” Fluoroquinolones are “among the first antibacterial agents that efficiently inhibited DNA replication.” (8). The mechanism for action for Ciprofloxacin, as listed on the FDA warning label is, “The bactericidal action of ciprofloxacin results from inhibition of the enzymes topoisomerase II (DNA gyrase) and topoisomerase IV (both Type II topoisomerases), which are required for bacterial DNA replication, transcription, repair, and recombination.” (7) Disrupting the DNA replication process is how these drugs work (or at least part of how they work). Denying that fluoroquinolone antibiotics damage DNA because it’s not a pleasant thing to acknowledge, is futile and it does not get us closer to the truth.
Very little is known about the consequences of disrupting DNA replication through pharmaceuticals. The truth that fluoroquinolones disrupt and dismantle DNA is only part of the puzzle; it is only part of the truth. As complicated and poorly understood as the effects of these drugs on DNA are, there are still multiple levels of questions regarding the effects of fluoroquinolones on the human body. Some of the questions, answers and truths likely lie in understanding the effects of these drugs on mitochondria. A thorough understanding of article “Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatotoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria” (9) and how it relates to fluoroquinolones will likely give you some answers about how these drugs do damage. There is evidence that fluoroquinolones cause cerebellar ataxia (10). The carboxylic acid molecule that is part of fluoroquinolone drugs likely leads to the formation of hazardous acyl glucuronoids (11). The interaction between broken mitochondrial DNA, acyl glucuronoids and cerebellar ataxia, combined with other ill understood and complex factors, is probably where the truth lies. It is hugely complex. It is impossible for the average person to comprehend and it is difficult for even the smartest person to understand. So, instead of seeking understanding and truth, the majority has chosen to ignore the fact that no one knows how these chemicals work in the human body and what their consequences are. We will take them because we know one small element of what they do – they kill bacteria – and believe that all other effects of these drugs are coincidental, accidental or rare.
Willful Ignorance about Fluoroquinolone Dangers
Willful ignorance has taken over, and faith-based assumptions about the good or evil that the medical system is have come to dominate the conversation. The established medical system is the entrenched party with the power, so those who support it are the majority; they are those with “common sense.” Those who rebel against the assumptions that the medical system is doing good are accused of being conspiracy theorists or worse. No one is really qualified to say that they have a position based on truth though, because there are too many unknown variables to know the truth (at this time). No one, not even the smartest researchers and scientists, fully know how fluoroquinolones, and probably many other drugs, affect every system in the human body. The human body is too complex and too little is known (at this time) about it, and how each of its systems interact, for anyone to truly know how everything works together. So little is known about the human body that ligaments, something that you can see with the naked eye, are still being discovered (12). If we don’t even know every ligament in the body, you can certainly bet that we don’t know every enzyme or neural pathway. Yet enzymes, neural pathways, mitochondrial DNA and other really important parts of human physiology are being disturbed by pharmaceuticals. And people are getting sick because of it.
Though the truth about how adverse drug reactions occur is difficult to ascertain, it should be sought. Questions should be asked. Experiments should be done. The effects of drugs on all bodily systems should be explored. Perhaps answers to difficult questions about how drugs effect mitochondria, neurons, enzymes, etc. should be asked before drugs are released into the public.
Back in 1992, when fluoroquinolones were first gaining popularity, Scientists raised concerns about their use in an article published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States:
“the interaction (of fluoroquinolones) with DNA is still of great concern because of the possible long-term genotoxicity of quinolone compounds, which are increasingly adopted as first-choice antibiotics for the treatment of many infections, and because it addresses the real mechanism of action of this class of molecules.” (13)
The question hasn’t been asked though. People have been stuck on the faith-based assumption that fluoroquinolones have “enviable record of safe and efficacious use” because the only side-effects that they’re willing to see are allergic reactions. They have been intent on willful ignorance. Willful ignorance protects them. It keeps them from seeing that in frivolously over-prescribing dangerous and poorly understood drugs, we may have damaged our precious DNA, and that the consequences of doing so may be many of the “mysterious” systemic diseases that plague us.
There is a fine line between screaming about willful ignorance on the part of the majority and being a conspiracy theorist. I’d like to think that I am reasonable; that my assertions are backed up by scientific findings, and that I’m right. Of course, all conspiracy theorists also think that they’re right, so my conviction does very little to convince naysayers. I hope that my screams are heard though. I hope that some people in power do something to stop the foolish over-use of these DNA damaging drugs. I hope that it’s not too late to be prudent and cautious.
The real world is complicated. Sometimes human bodies work in ways that aren’t simple. Sometimes problems are complex and difficult to understand. Sometimes pharmaceuticals work, or don’t work, in ways that are poorly understood. The power to do a massive amount of both good and harm is possible with modern medicine. Perhaps it is time that we start admitting that the harm that some drugs do is disproportionate to the good that they do. Perhaps it is time that we start recognizing that adverse drug reactions are not always immediate or easy to remedy. Perhaps it is time that we start insisting that the mechanisms of action for drugs be fully understood, at least by Scientists, before they are mass marketed to the public.
I don’t think that these suggestions and assertions make me a conspiracy theorist. But if they do, so be it. The notion that the pharmaceutical/medical system is killing and sickening innocent people is a “conspiracy theory” that I know to be true. So I will continue to fight to expose it, whatever the consequences may be.
Information about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity
Information about the author, and adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin) can be found on Lisa Bloomquist’s site, www.floxiehope.com.
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Hormones MatterTM is conducting research on the side effects and adverse events associated with the fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and others: The Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Side Effects Study. The study is anonymous, takes 20-30 minutes to complete and is open to anyone who has used a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Please complete the study and help us understand the scope of fluoroquinolone reactions.
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- Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy. Levofloxacin: update and perspective on one of the original respiratory quinolones.
- FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA requires label changes to warn of risk for possibly permanent nerve damage from antibacterial fluoroquinolone drugs taken by mouth or by injection.
- Quinolone Arthropathy in Animals Versus Children.
- Levofloxacin-induced acute anxiety and insomnia.
- Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism.
- FDA: Flouroquinolone warning label.
- The Mechanism of Inhibition of Topoisomerase IV by Quinolone Antibacterials*
- Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatotoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria.
- Current Drug Metabolism (v.12, #3).
- Surgeons discover new ligament in human knee.