Levaquin Nerve Damage Lawsuit Filed Against J&J Over Failure to Warn

Johnson & Johnson faces yet another lawsuit that alleges inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of nerve damage from Levaquin side effects, with a Washington state man indicating that he developed permanent peripheral neuropathy following use of the popular antibiotic. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Ronald Baughn in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on April 1, presenting claims against Johnson & Johnson, their Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary and McKesson Corporation, which distributed the Levaquin.

Baughn indicates that following use of Levaquin he developed peripheral neuropathy or symptoms of nerve damage associated with the condition, which is a painful and debilitating disease that may impair sensation, movement, organ function and other aspects of health.

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The case joins a growing number of Levaquin nerve damage lawsuits filed by consumers throughout the United States, alleging that the drug makers have known for years about the potential risk of peripheral neuropathy, yet failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community.

“The warning label for Levaquin during September 2004 through August 2013 misled Plaintiff and his treating physician by incorrectly advising patients and physicians that peripheral neuropathy associated with Levaquin was “rare” and in any case could be avoided by discontinuing the drug upon onset of certain symptoms,” according to the complaint filed by Baughn. “The truth, however, is that the onset of irreversible peripheral neuropathy is often rapid and discontinuation of the drug will not ensure that the peripheral neuropathy is reversible.”

Risk of Nerve Damage from Levaquin

Levaquin is part of a popular class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, which also include Cipro, Avelox and other medications. However, Levaquin has been the best-selling member of this class in recent years, generating over $1.3 billion in annual sales before generic versions became available in 2011.

In 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication indicating that it was requiring the manufacturers of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones to change their warning labels about the risk of peripheral neuropathy problems, providing warnings for the first time that symptoms may continue for months or even years after an individual stops taking the drug. The FDA also ordered the companies to stop making claims that peripheral neuropathy side effects were rare.

“[R]ather than warning patients and physician that the use of Levaquin may result in permanent nerve damage, Defendants instead adopted a warning that misleadingly indicated such damage was rare and in any event could be avoided by simply discontinuing the drug upon the onset of certain symptoms,” states the lawsuit filed by Baughn, which seeks damages for strict liability, failure to warn, negligence, breach of warranty, fraud, negligent representation, and fradulent concealment.

Given the widespread use of the medication, many peripheral neuropathy lawsuits are being reviewed by lawyers, with it ultimately expected that several thousand similar cases may be filed over the coming months and years.


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