Yet another study has suggested that patients who take Levaquin or fluoroquinolone antibiotics face an increased risk for life-threatening aortic disorders, including aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection.
The research, which was published this month in the British Medical Journal, drew data from Swedish national health registers to identify more than 360,000 treatment episodes of fluoroquinolones and an equal number of treatment episodes involving amoxicillin. The authors of the study then compared the frequency of aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm between both groups.
Their analysis suggested a 66% increase in the risk of aortic aneurysm or dissection in patients treated with Levaquin or other fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
The research team also pointed to a mechanism that could explain the possible link between fluoroquinolone antibiotics and aortic disease.
“One of the factors involved in the development of aortic disease is increased activity in tissue-degrading enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases,” Björn Pasternak, associate professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine, Solna, said in a statement announcing the findings. “We know that fluoroquinolones induce the activity of these enzymes, which is also thought to underlie the more well-known adverse effect of tendon pain and rupture.”
This is not the first study to suggest a link between fluoroquinolone antibiotics and life-threatening aortic disorders.
In November 2015, for example, research published in JAMA: Internal Medicine indicated that people using the drugs were 2-times more likely to experience aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection within 60 days of exposure. The authors of that study also noted that fluoroquinolones have been tied to several collagen-related disorders. Collagen is a major extracellular matrix component of the aortic wall.
Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary have recdently been named in several Levaquin lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered aortic aneurysm or dissection because of the medication.
For example, a complaint filed in New York federal court by the nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP in September 2016 accused Johnson & Johnson and Janssen of failing to warn patients and doctors about the aortic risks allegedly associated with Levaquin.
“Defendant’s failure to investigate or study the potential association between Levaquin and aortic rupture and dissection was not due to lack of awareness,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants have for years had in their possession adverse event reports denoting patients who had received levofloxacin and suffered aortic aneurysm ruptures, aortic dissections and/or aortic ruptures following therapy.”
The Plaintiff in that case began taking Levaquin in May 2007 and subsequently suffered an aortic dissection that required surgical repair.