Fluoroquinolones in the Military

The rise in the popularity of Cipro can be traced back to Operation Desert Shield in the 1990s when there were concerns overseas that anthrax would be used as a biological weapon. The United States Department of Defense ordered over 30 million doses of ciprofloxacin- generic Cipro- to be used as a preventative measure.

Cipro gained the reputation as a “superdrug” and sales skyrocketed.

The Food and Drug Adminsitration approved Cipro in 2000 to prevent inhalation anthrax after possible exposure, the first antibiotic approved as a treatment in the event of a biowarfare attack.

Between 2009 and 2012, 1.2 million prescriptions distributed at military treatment facilities. In 2011 alone, 294,069 prescriptions dispensed at DoD facilities. 1

Of the approximately 700,000 soldiers deployed during Operation Desert Storm 1990-1991, nearly 30% developed Gulf War Syndrome. Scientists spent years trying to determine what caused nearly 250,000 Gulf War veterans to develop debilitating symptoms in what has been known as Gulf War Syndrome.

The United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs describes Gulf War Syndrome as “chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more” that are at least ten percent disabling. 2   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a similar definition of “chronic symptoms in two of three domains of fatigue, cognitive-mood, and musculoskeletal.” 3   Symptoms include cognitive deficits, autonomic dysfunction, severe fatigue and chronic widespread pain that implicate the central nervous system. 4

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics- Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin), and Avelox (moxifloxacin)- cause the same symptoms as Gulf War Syndrome and because fluoroquinolones are often prescribed to military personnel as a preventative measure, fluoroquinolones cannot be overlooked as a cause of Gulf War Syndrome.

Related links for Veterans:

Military One Source – http://www.militaryonesource.mil/

Help for Service Members – http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans/

Veterans and Active Duty – https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Veterans-and-Active-Duty

Supporting Military Families – http://www.hhs.gov/programs/social-services/supporting-military-families/index.html


1 http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20131101/NEWS/311010018/New-FDA-warnings-Cipro-may-tie-into-Gulf-War-illness
2 http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/medically-unexplained-illness.asp
3 http://precedings.nature.com/documents/6847/version/1/files/npre20126847-1.pdf
4 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262010.php