If you are newly floxed, let’s say two years or less, or if you are in a bad space emotionally it’s probably best that you pass this article over. Seriously.
When I started this website years ago, I was faced with an overwhelming about of data. Here I was, blogging about fluoroquinolones (FQ’s) as a cathartic release, unprepared for the road on which I was about to travel. Literally, I was totally unprepared to face the number of people who were travelling, more or less, the same road. I knew a lot of people had experienced these adverse drugs events (ADE’s), but the actual numbers ended up beyond my imagination. As a matter of fact, prescription drugs are the third leading killer of people in the U.S. and Europe, only second to heart disease and cancer (1), the the FQ’s are a big part of that.
ADE’s have complex manifestations, and the FQ’s are the poster children of complex manifestations. The modern medical establishment has a very tough time recognizing ADE’s from pharmaceuticals, even from those drugs that are likely to create ADE’s, so asking them to recognize FQ ADE’s is nearly impossible.
The FQ class of antibiotics are capable of setting into motion an idiopathic syndrome that causes numerous symptoms, of which can number into the several hundred. The adverse events of FQ’s are often disparate and by all definitions outrageous to a classically trained doctor. Although I am not making excuses, there really is no way to quantify this type of insidious damage based on the training of most doctors.
Mining data from this realm is challenging to say the least, and, the people who are supposed to be doing it, aren’t. That, unfortunately, leaves schmucks like me left to do the dirty work.
Regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies, despite now having access to decades of FQ prescribing data, are dropping the ball. One could easily surmise that they are doing this intentionally because if they did, we would uncover many ugly inconvenient truths.
I, regrettably, have been wading waist deep in this anecdotal collection of FQ ADE information since I started this website since 2009, but at least some of it has come to fruition. Scholars like Dr. Bennett, Dr. Noble, Dr. Golomb, and others, have tapped me for data in one aspect or another, and I have contributed to the occasional academic paper on FQ’s.
I have found, more often than not, that the FQ data trail leads us into areas where we do not want to go; areas that we would normally avoid, if it were up to us. One of these ugly inconvenient truths that I would like to look away from but keeps rearing its ugly head is what the medical community refers to as ‘late effects.’
Late effects are defined by the National Cancer Institute as health problems that occur months or years after treatment has ended (1).
Actually there are only a few classes of drugs that are recognized by the medical establishment as causing late effects. Among them are topoisomerase inhibitors that are used in anti-cancer therapy (chemotherapy) such as etoposide, teniposide, doxorubicin, daunorubicin, mitoxantrone, and amsacrine (2).
Yet, the FQ’s are topoisomerase II inhibitors.
See the disconnect?
We expect late effects in some patients who take systemic Topoisomerase Inhibitors for cancer, but the medical system totally dismisses them in patients who take Topoisomerase II Inhibitors as antibiotic therapy.
The late effects are there, but the medical establishment isn’t looking for them.
Like ripples on a pond, these late effects are spreading out throughout society, and not getting connected back to the FQ’s.
Ever since my entrance into this hellish world called floxing, I have been loosely documenting cases of individuals who were exposed to FQ’s, assumed a recovery, and then developed ‘late effect’ much later on, or those who took and FQ and had an unremarkable course of therapy and then later, much later, developed health problems.
There are two falsehoods that have become apparent to me.
The first, and the most obvious to those who have been personally impacted by the FQ’s, is that the general population is being sold a false bill of goods that these drugs are safe. Many doctors, researchers, and the like, find these drugs are impeccably safe. Why? Because they are not looking for the long term collateral damage. Their eyesight for ADE’s is myopic and narrow.
The second, and the most unpleasant one, if you suffered from an adverse event, no matter how small, you are home free once you recovered.
Initially, years ago I thought that the pools of late arrivals (those suffering from what is referred to as delayed adverse events), and those returning after having apparently recovered, were both very small. Regrettably, time has shown me that these pools are much larger than I previously thought. And that is just from the people who ‘connected the dots’ linking their new health problems to the FQ’s they had much earlier.
This begs the hypothetical question, “How many people don’t actually make the connection?” The obvious answer is that we’ll probably never know as the data gets lost in the noise, and the medical establishment will never blame it on the antibiotic…. ever.
The world’s belief structure about the FQ’s, driven by the medical community, is built on false narratives about safety that frankly don’t exist.
There are many reasons why the FQ’s have fallen so handily into a protective niche in our society: they came on the scene at the perfect time before our knowledge of mitochondria was more advanced, their method of action is poorly understood by the medical community, their unique method of action allows for the development of late effects which separate cause and effect, and medical cognitive dissonance, just to name a few.
I do think that most doctors suffer from cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a universal human phenomenon and it is based on the assumption that people want consistency between their expectations and reality. Because of this, they contort their thinking into knots to make that happen. In the case of ADE’s, to preserve the notion that our efforts help rather than hurt, their impulse is to attribute the harm to something other than their intervention.
Obviously, a cognitive dissonant attitude drives the failure to connect ADE’s to the guilty medications. This not only fails the patients, but again it fails in reporting statistics which leads the FDA to grossly underestimate the ADE’s experienced by patients. The bottom line is that doctors and patients believe that the FQ’s are much safer than they really are…and they cling to this belief, despite evidence to the contrary.
Today, however, one of my biggest demographics is individuals who have assumed complete healing and have returned. My data also shows that when they return, many are less vocal than before; they tend to shun FQ related social media and other outlets, so the community doesn’t hear a lot of the stories told by these unfortunate souls. However, in my little niche, I do, and with regular frequency.
Many times, returning individuals end up in more specific communities such as chronic fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, mitochondrial, neurological, and on and on. They have one thing in common however, the FQ’s were the initiator.
The detractors to this inconvenient truth are varied, from those entrenched in our political and medical system, to those new to this horror, and to some who are in self-denial.
With hindsight starting to allow us to peer into the once fog shrouded statistics, we start seeing the ugly anecdotal ties to Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s and a whole host of other, albeit less serious but still terribly disabling pathologies.
When you look at the recovery stories through this lens, the veracity of the statistics takes on a whole new dimension. People’s recovery, like levels of pain, are subjective, since no one uses the same standard to describe their recovery. I often get asked the question “What does a recovery look like?”
When you weed out the ones who were probably never floxed in the first place (those who recovered from death’s door in six months or less and are back jogging), or those suffering some other health malady with overlapping symptoms, and then analyze the scant long term data that we have, the picture is . . . not real pleasant.
For those poor returning souls this situation creates a conundrum. Their message, along with their data, gets lost, delegitimized. It is an inconvenient truth that gets relegated to the dark fringes of the FQ community. The medical establishment treats these patients the same way, like pariahs, especially if the try to blame their ADE’s on FQ’s. This often forces drastic measures.
One floxie who I will call ‘Bill’ told me his story which epitomizes this situation: