Avelox, known generically as moxifloxacin hydrochloride, is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, but only after other antibiotics have failed. It is in a class of drugs known as fluoroquinolones, which also includes Cipro and Levaquin. It has been prescribed to treat bacterial sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and community-acquired pneumonia. It is known as a broad spectrum fluoroquinolone antibiotic, which means that it can be used for many different bacteria strains, even life-threatening bacteria such as meningitis. Avelox works by disrupting DNA replication and cell division within the bacteria. This drug has treated over 109 million patients worldwide.

Research has shown that the drug Avelox (also sold under Avelon oral solution and Vigamox eye drops) causes liver disorders, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and tendon injuries. The FDA added a black box warning to the prescription in 2008 to warn about these issues.

The medical community was alerted to the risk of liver disorders from Avelox after “Dear Doctor” letters were sent from Bayer (Avelox’s manufacturer) to doctors in Europe. The letter stated that Avelox could cause severe liver damage with symptoms including yellowing of skin and eyes, severe itching, dark urine and pale-colored stool.

Avelox tendon ruptures can involve the Achilles heel, shoulder, hand bicep or thumb. The risk has been known to increase in patients over 60, patients who have received a kidney, heart or lung transplant, and patients on steroid therapy. The tendon rupture has even been seen in patients months after the Avelox regiment was completed.

Many medical professionals fear that Avelox has been over-prescribed and is no longer effective because bacteria have developed a resistance to the drug. Fluoroquinolones are among the most frequently prescribed antibiotics in the US—and doctors are urged to be more careful and prescribe these drugs only as a last resort.
Less serious side effects may include:

  • Nausea, mild diarrhea
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling nervous, anxious, or agitated
  • Mild skin itching

Serious side effects may include:

  • Severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats
  • Sudden pain, snapping or popping sound, bruising, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, or loss of movement in any of your joints
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody
  • Confusion, hallucinations, depression, insomnia or nightmares, unusual thoughts or behavior, feeling light-headed
  • Seizure (convulsions)
  • Severe headache, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, pain behind your eyes
  • Pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, weakness
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Numbness, tingling, or unusual pain anywhere in your body
  • The first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild
  • Severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling
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