microorganismsHow Things Can Go Horribly Wrong:

I received the following wonderfully detailed piece from one of our customers. She has graciously given me permission to publish it. Drugs can be helpful, yet they can be also be deadly, particularly when they’re mixed with other drugs. Please read Karen’s story and make it your duty to know about the drugs you are using because it’s clear that nobody else will look out for your best interests.

If you lack the skills to do this for yourself find an advocate who can help. Pharmacists are the experts about drugs and reactions, and they have the tools to “unpack” your individual situation. Sadly, most retail pharmacists are so busy behind the counter these days that they just can’t make time to research and analyze your situation. Perhaps a cadre of knowing and caring pharmacists will come forward to offer this kind of specialized service.

Karen’s Report: As you recall, last year I had a bronchoscopy to diagnose a lung infection. The diagnosis was Bronchiectasis and Mycobacterium Avium Intracellulare. I felt comfortable being at a teaching hospital, with a doctor who came recommended by the department of health. But I found out that even under these circumstances, the patient has to do a lot of thinking for himself, or things will go wrong.

One year ago, I began taking a combination of three prescribed medications: Levaquin, Azithromycin, and Priftin. I want to let you know some of the things I’ve learned about drugs and how they’re marketed and prescribed – I wish I had known them a year ago.

Since I went to a major teaching hospital for treatment, and my doctor is internationally known for treating both mycobacterium and bronchiectasis, my temptation was to trust whatever medications were prescribed. But on day 8 of treatment, I began experiencing side effects, which I mentioned to the doctor. One of the most dramatic and unexpected was muscle pain.

I suspected Levaquin, which was prescribed as part of the cocktail of drugs. He felt it might be the interaction of the drugs that was causing the problem (telling me he was confident that Levaquin was “safe”). So I began researching. My readings led me to some realizations:

  • Doctors take a lot of information about drugs from drug companies (they are not pharmacists and don’t have a great deal of training in pharmacology.)
  • Often drug companies minimize side effects when promoting them to doctors.
  • The FDA does not require that drug companies make public all the studies they conduct.
  • Most drug trials are conducted on males.
  • Drug strengths are listed for the most part in “one size fits all” packaging.
  • Drug companies do not make public information they may have on dosing for variables such as weight, sex or age—which means that people in these categories may (and often do) suffer the most with overdosing.

Levaquin is one of the newer, totally man-made antibiotics called floroquinolones. These drugs are particularly problematic in terms of side effects. Some can last months and even years after the treatment ends, and are cumulative. If you are ever placed on them a second time, the side effects can compound.

In the quest to figure out my own situation, I did a Google search: “Levaquin and Muscle Pain.” I invite you to do the same (over 500,000 pages returned). The first two articles (listed below) are the ones I would recommend that everyone read before the situation occurs where you might need the information, because floroquinolones are being prescribed for conditions as simple as sinus infections, urinary and prostate infections, and even for children. Without realizing the risk, you might get more than you bargained for.

I urge everyone to read these two articles; “Open Letter to the Congressional Committee” and “Reactions to Cipro. Levaquin, and Other Antibiotics.” Both pieces were written by Dr. Jay S. Cohen, a researcher on drugs and drug reactions. I highly recommend them; they are straightforward and easy to understand.

You can find out more about Dr. Cohen and read other articles, by going to the website www.medicationsense.com. Be sure to check out the listings under “Preventing Side Effects.”

I’m grateful to the drug companies, which have saved my life a couple times. But there is room for improvement. They could be more forthright in their research findings, and doctors need to be more enlightened about the drugs they are prescribing and appropriate dosing. Many people have experienced severe muscle pain and even tendon tears from floroquinolones.

A friend of mine took Levaquin following a hand surgery, and got yeast everywhere, including in her lungs, had to quit her job and almost died.

Another friend took Levaquin for six months for a suspected prostate infection, and now six months later has muscle pain.

I have not only pain, but have lost some range of motion in both arms. I will always wonder if I had been eased onto the drug, and perhaps then given a lesser than recommended maintenance dose, if this situation could have been avoided. The pain can go on for months and even years and tendon tears can happen months after going off the drugs.

I’ve specifically mentioned the newer floroquinolone antibiotics, but if you read Dr. Cohen’s articles, you will find that every prescription drug comes with side effects, and dosing is an art as well as a science. I’m now reading his book: “Over Dose: A Case Against the Drug Companies“. It is excellent and I highly recommend it. (Clicking on the title will link to the Amazon page for Dr. Cohen’s book.)

One of the points in the book is what’s called “individual variation”. According to the AMA Drug Evaluations, individual variation with any drug can range from four to forty-fold. That’s a large difference in the dosage that may be required between one person and another. His point is that while the principle of individual variation is taught in every medical school, it is rarely practiced in that same institution.

I looked up the dosage requirements for Levaquin, and the only variations given were for the type of infection. No variation was given for weight, sex, or age, nor was there any suggestion that these variables might be important to consider when prescribing. Evidently, the drug companies try to keep things simple for the doctor.

I hope my experiences will save either you or someone you know from having a bad experience with prescription drugs.