Antibiotic Tequin taken off market
Globe & Mail
An antibiotic suspected of causing dangerous changes in blood-sugar levels has been pulled from the market.
Production of the drug gatifloxacin (sold under the brand name Tequin) has been discontinued by its maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Marc Osborne, director of Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, said the decision was made "following an evaluation of the commercial potential of this antibiotic" and is consistent with the company's strategy to focus on more specialized drugs.
Just two months ago, however, when a Canadian study concluded that the drug was too risky and should not be prescribed, the company had insisted it was safe when used appropriately, and said the drug would remain on the market.
Tequin had been available in Canada since 2001. It was commonly used to treat pneumonia and urinary tract infections in the elderly, but in recent years, there have been growing worries about its effect on blood sugar.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March, added to those concerns. It found that patients hospitalized in Ontario with dangerously high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) were almost 17 times as likely to have been treated with gatifloxacin as with another antibiotic. Among those treated for abnormally low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), patients were four times as likely to have received gatifloxacin.
Researchers concluded the drug should never be prescribed to diabetics and probably not to anyone. Health regulators ordered much stronger warnings on the label about the potentially dangerous side effect.
According to Health Canada, there have been 169 reports of hypoglycemia and 109 reports of hyperglycemia associated with Tequin.
Tequin is part of a family of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, the most-prescribed antibiotics in North America.
The blood sugar changes appear to be unique to Tequin, and not a class effect.
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