• Patients suffer devastating side effects from popular antibiotic

    By: Jim Strickland

    Updated:

    Channel 2 Action News viewers are coming forward to say they too were hit by devastating side effects from a popular antibiotic.

    Our story of death and injury blamed on levofloxacin has reached more than 1.5 million Facebook followers.

    Several viewers told us they didn’t know about a crucial warning until it was too late.

    "In 12 weeks, I should walk again," said Lynne Whitcopf of Cherokee County.

    Right now, Whitcopf is getting around her house with the aid of a walker.

    She says it all started after a doctor prescribed levofloxacin to fight an infection after her back surgery.  That was in 2013. 

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    Warnings about the risks to a patient's legs had been out long before that.

    "He did not give me any warning about that.  He didn't say anything and the pharmacist didn't say anything either," Whitcopf said.

    The levofloxacin medication guide has included the FDA's strongest precaution, called a "black box" warning, since 2008.

    "Tendon problems can happen in people of all ages," it reads in part.

    Whitcopf showed Channel 2’s Jim Strickland the scar where a surgeon had to rebuild her Achilles tendon three weeks ago.

    Whitcopf left Strickland's interview to go to her first physical therapy appointment.

    "I think I dodged a bullet," she said.

    Cobb County plastic surgeon Keith Jeffords emailed Strickland about the drug as well.

    "It was an amazing amount of pain, to the point that I couldn't walk," he said.

    Jeffords received the brand name drug Levaquin after ulcer surgery.  When his doctor refused to switch the drug, Jeffords fled the hospital against medical advice.

    "They took me down to the base of the hospital and I crawled on my all fours to my car and drove home,” Jeffords said.

    He says he never got the warning either.

    "I will tell you, as someone who's been through Levaquin,  I will not prescribe that drug in my office,” he said.

    Jeffords says his legs were weak for months.

    Johnson & Johnson, the company that developed levofloxacin, says the drug's benefits outweigh the risks.

    Many of our Facebook posters have said it's the only drug that works for them.

    The FDA says extensive review and analysis is underway about proposed new warnings.

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