FDA warns certain antibiotics carry aortic aneurysm risks

New research prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning Thursday stating the benefits of a long-prescribed class of antibiotics do not outweigh the risks for certain patients, CNN reported.

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Fluoroquinolone antibiotics – used for more than 30 years to treat certain bacterial infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections – include drugs sold under the names ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin) and ofloxacin (Floxin).

Specifically, the FDA's review found fluoroquinolone antibiotics can increase the occurrence of "rare but serious events of ruptures or tears in the main artery of the body, called the aorta," noting an aortic aneurysm can lead to "dangerous bleeding or even death."

This latest research cites both reports of patient problems and studies published between 2015 and 2018, CNN reported.

"Although the risk of aortic aneurysm or dissection is low, we've observed that patients are twice as likely to experience an aortic aneurysm or dissection when prescribed a fluoroquinolone drug," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "For patients who have an aortic aneurysm or are known to be at risk of an aortic aneurysm, we do not believe the benefits outweigh this risk, and alternative treatment should be considered."

Patients most at risk for an aortic aneurysm after taking these antibiotics include the elderly, those with high blood pressure, people with a history of blockages of the aorta or other blood vessels, and those who have genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndromeCNN reported.

"The FDA remains committed to keeping the risk information about these products current and comprehensive and will continue to update the public," Gottleib said.

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