I was getting ready to post an article on insomnia, which will be forthcoming shortly, when I got sidetracked by watching a portion of congressional hearings focusing on the automaker Toyota. Anyone who has been watching the news lately has to have heard by now that Toyota is in the cross hairs of congressional hearings in Washington, D.C. Toyota has come under public scrutiny due to alleged defects in some of their automotive models. Toyota is recalling millions of autos in hopes to correct possible acceleration defects that, according to the latest facts I could find, have been linked to a possible 275 crashes and 18 deaths over the past 11 years. I agree that these deaths are tragic and warrant the company to investigate and correct and malfunctions, but let is put this in perspective with our fluoroquinolone plight.
According to Medwatch, the adverse drug reporting arm of the FDA, the following statistics are available on fluoroquinolone antibiotics, from a period from 1997 to 2007: Levaquin 39,128 adverse drug reactions (ADR’S) and 808 deaths, Floxin 13,495 ADR’s and 311 deaths, Cipro 40,395 ADR’s and 837 deaths, Avelox 30,160 ADR’s and 337 deaths, and Proquin 40,151 ADR’s and 831 deaths. For this list of FQs, and it is not a total inclusive list, the total adverse drugs reactions are 163,329 with deaths totaling 3,124. According to the FDA, reports to Medwatch only represent between 1% and 10% of the actual numbers of occurrence. Why? The FDA states that most people have never heard of the Medwatch program and a lot of doctors are not inclined to waste their valuable time in reporting adverse drug reactions or telling patients about it. Looking at the facts from the FDA’s own admission, deaths from FQ’s could easily total over 30,000, based on if only 10% of the actual occurrences have been reported.
Now humor me for a minute as my logical mind kicks in. Toyota recalls millions of cars and has to appear before congressional hearings because of the possibility that a defect cause 275 crashes and 18 deaths over 11 years, and the fluoroquinolones antibiotics have caused, at the very least, 163,329 ADR’s and 3,124 deaths, and no hearings, no outcry, no acknowledgement from the medical community? Why? These drugs have caused untold suffering to thousands and could possibly be implicated in the cause or exacerbation of many other health disorders, which is a topic for another article.
Now one may try to argue back that hundreds of thousands of prescriptions have been given out for fluoroquinolones and they have an excellent safety record. Compared to what? Millions of Toyota’s have been sold and now have come under scrutiny for 275 crashes and 18 deaths. Don’t you think that 3,124 deaths (when the actual figure could be as much as 30,000) warrant more scrutiny? What will it take to get stronger wording and cautions for other damages other than tendon injuries? Patients need to be informed that the use of these drugs for other than life saving necessity can results in a host of severe reactions, which can cripple for an extended period.
In American today it is unfathomable to me that a group of people so large, can fall into a hole, and, despite the evidence, their pleas for help go unheeded. I know that many in FQ community have tried for years to get the attention of the medical community and law makers. Despite failures, we must continue to fight, anyway we can, and build upon the small successes to overcome the resistance.