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Widely used antibiotic linked to rare but serious side-effects: safety review

Health Canada has reviewed the safety of fluoroquinolone, a commonly used antibiotic, and concluded it’s linked to persistent and disabling side-effects in rare cases. The antibiotic is used to treat bacterial infections, including respiratory and urinary tract infections. Each year 3.1 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolones are filled in Canada, according to Health Canada.

The review, published Jan.

23[1], was prompted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) safety review which found serious side-effects were linked to the drug, such as tendon, joint and muscle pain, pins and needles tingling, confusion and hallucinations. In July 2016[2] the FDA advised health-care professionals to restrict the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics for uncomplicated infections, stating “fluoroquinolones should be reserved for those who do not have alternative treatment options.”

At the time of the Health Canada review, they found 115 reports of persistent (lasting for 30 days or more) and disabling side-effects, of which only 78 were determined to likely be causally linked to the drug. In the review, Health Canada wrote that they are “working with the manufacturers to update the safety information for all fluoroquinolones to inform about this potential risk.” They added that they will continue to monitor safety information and will take “appropriate action if and when any new health risks are identified.”

References

  1. ^ published Jan.

    23 (www.hc-sc.gc.ca)

  2. ^ July 2016 (www.fda.gov)

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