SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. Ciprofloxacin is a member of the fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics. It is used in the treatment of pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, prostatitis, and urinary infections. Recently Cipro has received a lot of attention as an antidote to anthrax infection. Thousands of prescriptions have been filled recently for this drug, many people are taking it as a preventive measure, and governments are stockpiling millions of dosages. Is this a prudent response to the anthrax threat? Professor Jay S. Cohen of the University of California doesn't think so. He has identified 45 cases where patients developed serious adverse effects after taking Cipro (11 cases) or other fluoroquinolones. The primary reactions involved the peripheral nervous system and were manifested as numbness, twitching, spasms, tingling or burning pain. About 78 per cent of the cases also had central nervous system involvement with symptoms such as dizziness, agitation, hallucinations, and impaired cognitive function. Over 90 per cent of the adverse reactions showed up within two weeks with 33 per cent occurring within 24 hours of starting treatment. Symptoms were often long-term in nature with 58 per cent of patients having them for a year or more. In 40 per cent of the cases the prescribing physician did not recognize the symptoms as a reaction to fluoroquinolones or dismissed their significance.
Dr. Cohen concludes that fluoroquinolones such as Cipro are far from benign and should be used with great
care. He also points out that less dangerous antibiotics such as penicillin and doxycycline are often all that
is required to cure an infection.