EXCLUSIVE by Wendy Williams
A PAIR of British expats have launched an awareness campaign after a common antibiotic left them with ruptured tendons.
Gloria Comer and Linda Stevens are furious that they were issued the drugs, marketed by Sanofi Aventis, which should only be used to treat severe or life-threatening bacterial infections.
Originally designed to combat anthrax, the pair are now distributing a pamphlet highlighting the serious side effects of Levafloxin and Ciprofloxin, both in the Quinalone group.
So dangerous is the drug that in the UK it has been issued a so-called ‘black box warning’, the last step before being removed from the market.
In Spain however, the drug is still being handed out for minor infections.
The warnings are buried in the small print.
“It was terrifying,” said Comer, 65, from Southampton, who spent nine months in a wheelchair after both her Achilles tendons, calf and shoulder muscles ruptured within 48 hours of taking the drug two years ago.
“They gave me the drugs as a prophylactic – in case of infection – not even because I needed them,” added the Javea-based pensioner, who has had to learn to walk again. “I still have difficulties getting around.”
In total, she claims, around 500,000 people globally have been affected in a similar way. Many were prescribed the antibiotic for urinary infections.
Another victim Linda Stevens, 59, from Hampshire, claims to have lost a year of her life to the drug.
“I was coming down some steps and both my Achilles tendons went,” she explained.
“They had to operate on both legs, which had more or less disintegrated.
“That was over a year ago, and I’m still not walking properly.
“At the time I didn’t even associate it with the drug. It is very frightening,” added the estate agent.
“You might take the drug and feel better, and then months later you get tendonitis.”
As Comer added: “Drug companies might tell you it is rare. But you just have to look at the number of victims around the world.
“We need to warn people about the dangers.”
The pair are now members of the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation – www.saferpills.org – to raise awareness about these drugs and raise money for research.
A spokesman for Sanofi Aventis insisted: “Current SmPC and leaflets for both levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin include tendon rupture. They are in line with the Spanish legislation and aligned with the EU ones.”
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