J&J's Levaquin on trial for second time

Another product liability suit has hit the courts. This time it's Johnson & Johnson's Levaquin at issue, with an 84-year-old plaintiff alleging that he ruptured his Achilles tendon after taking the antibiotic. The suit claims that J&J knew Levaquin boosted the risk of tendon damage in elderly patients--and that the company failed to properly warn patients or doctors about that risk.

As Bloomberg reports, this is the second of more than 2,500 pending cases alleging Levaquin-related tendon damage. In the first case, a Minneapolis jury awarded $1.8 million to another 84-year-old man who ruptured both Achilles tendons.

In 2008, FDA required J&J to strengthen a warning about potential tendon damage associated with Levaquin. The current plaintiff, Calvin Christensen, alleges the company and its Ortho-McNeil unit knew about the risks earlier and should have upgraded that warning before it did. His tendon injury took place before the label was changed.

J&J says it didn't fail to warn about Levaquin's risks. The drug's label "has included warnings about tendonitis and tendon ruptures" since it was first approved, a company spokesman told Bloomberg. "Additionally," the spokesman said, "the evidence will show that the plaintiff's prescribing physician was aware of the risks of Levaquin, including the risk of tendon rupture in elderly patients."

- get the Bloomberg story

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