Pharmacy Friday #1: Antibiotic Alternatives to Fluoroquinolones for Infectious Disease - The Emergency Medical Minute

Pharmacy Friday #1: Antibiotic Alternatives to Fluoroquinolones for Infectious Disease

Welcome to EMM’s first Pharmacy Friday where we dive deeper on a certain pharmacological topic as it pertains to emergency medicine. Dr. Rachael Duncan, Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacist, joins us today to talk about antibiotics use for infectious disease, specifically fluoroquinolones.

Educational Pearls:

  • Levofloxacin used to be relied upon heavily due to its multiple upsides including ease of use and wide spectrum coverage of common bacteria. Fluoroquinolones are generally advised against in most patients due to three main concerns stemming from decades of overuse. These concerns are patient adverse reactions, safety concerns and drug resistance.
  • Patient adverse reactions include potential QTc prolongation, neurologic symptoms including worsening of myasthenia gravis or peripheral neuropathy and severe hypoglycemia.
  • Due to these adverse effects, a new term was coined: fluoroquinolone-associated disability. In an FDA report, they looked at the percentage of disability reports among all serious outcome reports of selected antibiotics for the treatment of uncomplicated sinusitis, bronchitis and UTI and found that the top 5 antibiotics that led to disability reports were fluoroquinolones.
  • Drug resistance due to overuse has also severely decreased the susceptibility rates of fluoroquinolones at many institutions, check out your facility’s antibiograms to get an idea of what susceptibility rates are for different drugs.
  • Common infections that are inappropriately given fluoroquinolones when other options would be better suited are PNA, UTI and intra-abdominal infections.

Tune in next week for more on cross-reactivity of cephalosporins and penicillins

References: 2017. Fluoroquinolone Safety Labeling Changes. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 August 2020]. 2018. Practice Guidelines. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 August 2020].

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2018. FDA Updates Warnings For Oral And Injectable Fluoroquinolone. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 August 2020].

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