The antibiotic Levaquin has already been the subject of numerous product liability claims over tendon injuries and peripheral neuropathy. But now the drug’s manufacturers are facing an $800 million RICO lawsuit over what the plaintiffs claim was a conspiracy to conceal serious Levaquin side effects.

The lawsuit, which was filed last month in the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, asserts that the manufacturers of Levaquin and several other defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal law usually used to rein in organized crime. Among other things, the drug makers are accused of intentionally hiding Levaquin’s association with peripheral neuropathy for the sake of profit.

Levaquin RICO Lawsuit Targets Former FDA Commissioner

In addition to Johnson & Johnson and its Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, the lawsuit names Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and her husband as defendants. According to the complaint, Hamburg’s husband was an executive and co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund with $342 million invested in Johnson & Johnson in 2011. The lawsuit charges that Hamburg acted against the recommendations of FDA advisors and reviewers in regards to Levaquin. Because the compensation paid to Renaissance employees is based on the performance of the fund, plaintiffs contend that Hamburg’s actions helped raise her husband’s income from $10 million in 2008, to $125 million at its peak in 2011.

“Each and every Defendant acted in concert with one another in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States to violate RICO through a pattern of racketeering activity because of personal, financial gain, to fraudulently convey false and misleading information concerning the safety of Levaquin, and to conceal from the Plaintiffs, the public, physicians, and healthcare providers, the risks of serious adverse events, including mitochondrial toxicity, certain neuropsychiatric adverse events… and other chronic, degenerative illnesses directly associated with Levaquin,” the complaint charges.

Levaquin Litigation History

This is not the first time Levaquin has been at the center of a legal controversy. By 2012, more than 3,400 product liability claims had been filed on behalf of plaintiffs who allegedly experienced tendon damage due to their use of Levaquin. As of 2014, the majority of those cases had bee settled.

In recent years, dozens of Levaquin lawsuits have been filed by patients who claim that treatment with the medication led to their peripheral neuropathy diagnosis. The majority of those cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. The proceeding also includes similar lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of two other fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro and Avelox.

If you would like to learn more about filing a Levaquin claim for peripheral neuropathy, please call Bernstein Liebhard LLP at 877-779-1414 to arrange for a free review of your case.

Published February 10, 2016 by