An Evaluation of Reports of Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin, and Moxifloxacin-Association Neuropsychiatric Toxicities, Long-Term Disability, and Aortic aneurysms/dissections Disseminated by the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2019 Nov;18(11):1055-1063. doi: 10.1080/14740338.2019.1665022. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Introduction: Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and moxifloxacin belong to the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics and are amongst the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. In 2018 and 2019, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) requested that manufacturers harmonize FQ safety information related to neuropsychiatric, aortic dissection, and long-term disability. The authors hypothesize that FDA and EMA epidemiologists support a strong association between these drugs and the three toxicities. Areas covered: Studies of FQ-associated neuropsychiatric toxicity, long-term disability, and aortic ruptures/dissections. Clinical sources include FDA Advisory Committee documents, a 2014 Citizen Petition filed with the FDA requesting safety information additions to FQ labels for neuropsychiatric toxicities (partially granted in 2018), an under-review Citizen Petition under review by the FDA requesting a FQ Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, and safety notifications from the EMA. Expert opinion: FDA and the EMA report state that neuropsychiatric toxicity, long-term disability, and aortic dissections//aneurysms occur with all FQs. Disability and neuropsychiatric toxicity can occur after one dose or several months after FQs. United States' and European' regulators warn physicians not to prescribe FQs for uncomplicated acute urinary tract infection, sinusitis, or bronchitis, unless other possible choices are tried first, as risks outweigh benefits in these settings.

Keywords: Fluoroquinolones; REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy); adverse events; neuropsychiatric toxicity; restricted distribution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / chemically induced
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Aortic Aneurysm / chemically induced
  • Aortic Rupture / chemically induced
  • Ciprofloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Ciprofloxacin / adverse effects*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • European Union
  • Humans
  • Levofloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Levofloxacin / adverse effects*
  • Moxifloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Moxifloxacin / adverse effects*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Moxifloxacin