Comparison of side effects of levofloxacin versus other fluoroquinolones

Chemotherapy. 2001:47 Suppl 3:9-14; discussion 44-8. doi: 10.1159/000057839.


The side-effect profile of levofloxacin was compared with that of other fluoroquinolones based on European and international data from approximately 130 million prescriptions. Levofloxacin was found to be very safe with a low rate of hepatic abnormalities (1/650,000). In contrast, 140 trovafloxacin-treated patients developed hepatic problems, 14 of which were severe, and 8 required transplantation. The main CNS problems associated with fluoroquinolones include dizziness, convulsions, psychosis, and insomnia. Levofloxacin, ofloxacin, and moxifloxacin reportedly have the lowest potential of inducing central nervous system (CNS) adverse events among the fluoroquinolones currently available. Cardiovascular problems were seen in 1/15 million levofloxacin prescriptions compared to 1-3% of sparfloxacin patients having QTc prolongation of greater than 500 msec. Moxifloxacin was also associated with QTc prolongation when compared to non-fluoroquinolone comparators. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea remain the main adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with levofloxacin. However, the ADR rate for levofloxacin is still one of the lowest of any fluoroquinolone at 2% (compared to 2-10% for other fluoroquinolones). Ofloxacin and levofloxacin have a very low phototoxic potential, whereas this is a problem for sparfloxacin, enoxacin, and pefloxacin. The tolerance profile of levofloxacin can be considered to be very good, and better than most, if not all of the fluoroquinolones available.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Dermatitis, Phototoxic / etiology*
  • Digestive System / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Levofloxacin*
  • Ofloxacin / adverse effects*
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Tendinopathy / chemically induced
  • Tendon Injuries / etiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Levofloxacin
  • Ofloxacin