FDA strengthens warning for popular antibiotics

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened warnings for the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics after they were found to cause mental health problems and serious blood sugar disturbances, including hypoglycaemic coma in people with diabetes.

Fluoroquinolones include ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin , ofloxacin, gemifloxacin and delafloxacin, which are used to treat common bacterial infections, including bacterial pneumonia. They are among the most widely used antibiotics in India, where hundreds of generic versions of the drugs are available.

India is the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics, with use more than doubling between 2000 and 2015. Against a global antibiotic increase of 65%, India reported a 103% increase, according to a study at Princeton University published in March this year.

The mental health side effects include disturbances in attention, disorientation, agitation, nervousness, memory impairment and delirium.

The new safety warnings are for all fluoroquinolones, including those taken by mouth or injected.

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