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Seen At 11: Is The Antibiotic 'Cipro' A Prescription For Danger?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Cipro is a common antibiotic that is prescribed for treating a number of bacterial infections, but some say it may be a prescription for danger.

"I wanted to be a firefighter since I was a kid," Chris Jones said.

For 9 years Jones has been living that dream, but the last 5 months have been a nightmare.

"My life flipped upside down," he told CBS2's Dick Brennan.

Flipped upside down, he said, because of crippling side effects he experienced after taking the popular antibiotic Ciprofloxacin or Cipro as it is more commonly known.

"I went on a walk with my dog after taking the medicine, and it felt like a bomb went off in my body," he said.

It's pain that continued ever since, especially in his legs.

"His story is so, to me, typical of many of the stories I've read about and looked through the FDA files on," Dr. Charles Bennett said.

Dr. Bennett is a professor of pharmacy who recently filed a petition asking the FDA to put broader warnings on Cipro. the medication is part of a class of antibiotics called quinolones, along with the drugs Levaquin and Avelox.

"Doctors are not aware of the full range of toxicities that are associated with the quinolones," Bennett said.

Critics also charge that the drugs, which are so strong they can kill anthrax, are too freely prescribed for illnesses that could be treated with less powerful medications.

"They haven't done a good enough job warning the public about how dangerous this drug is," Jones said.

The FDA said it's logged just 4,500 reports of serious side effects, an exceedingly small percentage considering 23-million prescriptions are filled each year.

Drug makers already list side effects including the possibility for tendon and nerve damage on the labels.

"I just don't know if I'm going to get better or not, and no one can tell me," Jones said.

Jones is living with the pain and other side effects, which even the FDA acknowledged may be permanent in some people.

"The hardest thing is not knowing," Jones said.

The FDA told CBS2 it's continuing to monitor complaints. Bayer, the maker of Cipro, said in a statement that they encourage patients to speak with their healthcare providers regarding any symptoms that they may experience after taking a prescription product.

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