Lawsuit Alleges Avelox Nerve Damage Risks Not Adequately Disclosed

Bayer Healthcare faces a product liability lawsuit brought by a South Carolina woman, which alleges that side effects of Avelox caused her to suffer permanent nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on March 23, involving a claim for damages suffered by Christina Morris, who indicates that she has experienced nerve damage since Avelox use over a seven-day period in 2013.

The case joins a growing number of Avelox peripheral neuropathy lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the U.S., which all raise similar allegations that the drug makers failed to warn consumers and the medical community about the link between nerve damage and antiobiotics that are part of a family of medications known as fluoroquinolones, which also include Levaquin, Cipro and others.

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Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that involves damage to the nerves, which may impair sensation, movement and other aspects of health. Symptoms may include pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and sensitivity to light touches, temperature and motion in the arms and legs.

While warnings provided with Avelox, Levaquin, Cipro and other fluoroquinolones have indicated that users may face a risk of peripheral neuropathy, for years the drug makers indicated that the antibiotic nerve damage was rare, and plaintiffs allege that they failed to adequately disclose that many users have been left with irreversible pain and disability by claiming that any nerve damage that occurred would be temporary.

“The warning label for Avelox during the period from September 2004 through August 2013 misled Plaintiff and her treating physician by incorrectly advising patients and physicians that peripheral neuropathy associated with Avelox was ‘rare’ and failing to mention the possibility that it could result in irreversible nerve damage,” the lawsuit filed by Morris states. “Though this injury can be significant and debilitating, the language regarding the ‘rare’ risk of peripheral neuropathy was buried at the bottom of a long list of adverse reactions that were included on the Avelox label; the language was in no way highlighted for the benefit of prescribing physicians and patients.”

In August 2013, the FDA required drug makers to provide stronger warnings about the peripheral neuropathy risk from Avelox, Levaquin, Cipro and other fluoroquinolones, indicating problems may last for months or years after an individual stops taking the drug. The new label now warns patients to contact their doctors and consider switching to a different class of antibiotics if they experience symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Similar Levaquin lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits are also being pursued throughout the U.S. by users of those other popular fluoroquinolones, raising nearly identical allegations that indicate the drug makers placed their desire for profits before consumer safety by withholding adequate warnings about the risk of peripheral neuropathy for years.

Morris’s lawsuit accuses Bayer of strict liability, failure to warn, negligence, breach of warranty, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, seeking both punitive and compensatory damages.

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