Local physician, Dr. Mark Ghalili, speaks out after a commonly prescribed antibiotic paralyzed him.

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) — When the FDA issues a warning about serious risks associated with a medication, one would think that doctors would be the first to know.

What happens, though, when physicians lack some of that potentially life-saving information for themselves?

Dr. Mark Ghalili found that out the hard way.

Having recently completed his medical training, the Beverly Hills physician was living his dream.

“I was just getting started — very exciting,” Dr. Ghalili told CBS2 News.

However, in December of 2016, his life and career took an unexpected, nearly tragic turn. While running on a treadmill at the gym one day, he felt he could not stand.

“I was on the floor crying, gasping for life,” the doctor recalled.

He had lost control of the muscles in his legs.

Like many of his patients had probably done, he took to Google to do some research and found other people with similar experiences. Like them, he had recently been prescribed the popular antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, commonly known as “Cipro,” for an infection.

Cipro is in the class of antibiotics called “fluoroquinolones.” It’s so common, Dr. Ghalili had prescribed Cipro once, but he said he was not aware of its extremely adverse effects.

“You know, as a medical doctor, every medication — there’s gonna be side effects, but you never think there would be such severe defects,” admitted Ghalili. “I was completely crippled. I had to physically crawl.”

Once he read the comments from people who had suffered similar effects on online message boards, he was convinced: “Oh my God! This drug poisoned me.”

After diagnosing himself, Dr. Ghalili said it was difficult for him to get help.

“Most of my physician colleagues had actually thought I was making this up or fabricating the story,” Ghalili said. ” They had never heard of this condition occurring before.”

However, he discovered there had been thousands of complaints about this type of prescription drug.

Claims prompted the FDA to issue warnings, saying fluoroquinolones “are associated with disabling, potentially permanent side effects that can involve tendons, muscles… nerves and central nervous system.”

“It’s just unbelievable what a medication that is so commonly prescribed can actually do to someone,” warned Ghalili.

He said that at his most desperate times, he had called cemeteries and had even given his family his final wishes.

“If my life had ended at that time, I would have been OK with it,” Ghalili said.

The doctor finally found a specialist in San Diego experienced in fluoroquinolones toxicity that treated him before he turned to alternative therapies.

After six months confined to a chair, Dr. Ghalili said stem cell infusion that used his own fat got him back on his feet, and he was walking within six weeks.

Now, the doctor hopes to raise awareness of the potential dangers of some antibiotics, but he appreciates what he went through as a learning experience.

“It’s really a blessing in disguise going through an experience like this because it really opens your eyes your patients are going through,” Ghalili told CBS2.

“It really makes you listen more deeply to what they’re saying, to understand how devastating their conditions can be, and to offer them a helping hand.”

Dr. Ghalili can be reached at www.regenerativemedicinela.com.

For more information on the stem cell treatment Dr. Ghalili received visit Stem Cell Revolution.

For more on the FDA’s warning on fluoroquinolone antiobiotics read their press release.

Comments (17)

    Most doctors have no clue how dangerous these drugs are. As victims show up in Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group and the many other support groups we have they all report the same thing, that their medical teams not only failed to recognize or acknowledge the adverse reactions, but they are routinely misdiagnosed and then prescribed more toxic drugs for conditions they don’t have, like lupus, fibro, ALS, Parkinson’s and so on. The sad and sorry truth is that a HUGE swath of the population has been harmed but because these reactions are usually delayed by weeks or even months after the fluoroquinolones, or FQs, are discontinued people rarely make the connection. Who thinks of the antibiotic they took last summer when a tendon ruptures or they can’t balance or they get awful headaches or their lung collapses or they get neuropathy or any of a hundred or more other “symptoms” of FQAD set in. Worse yet, we usually get a whole bunch of these problems at the same time, a condition we call being “floxed”, which comes from the generic names of FQS, all of which end in “…floxacin”.

    I can’t urge viewers enough to google these terms and follow where they go. You will be stunned! Best wishes to all!

    Mark A Girard
    Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Advocate!

  2. Thank you for raising awareness about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity (FQAD as the FDA has labeled the constellation of symptoms this class of drugs can cause). Sadly, after the FDA changed the label on 7/26/16 after 35 of us testified about the horrors of these drugs, the FDA never sent a notification directly to doctors and pharmacists and instead have relied on the media to inform them of the label changes. Much more needs to be done.

  3. Thank you, Dr. Ghalili and CBSLosAngeles, for having the courage to broadcast this much needed information. Mark is right. There are millions of us suffering every second of the day from these drugs. Seven years ago I, too, was almost killed by Cipro. I still endure the effects in ways too numerous to mention. A dear friend of mine died recently from this same drug. The cost in human life has been too high. We need to educate the public and doctors better. The effects are unbelievable. It is like having a bomb go off inside you. Nothing is left unscathed. Again, my heartfelt thanks. If you have saved even one person from living this nightmare you have made a world of difference.

  4. Jo Okeefe says:

    Important antibiotic that should ONLY be used for life-threatening infections that are resistant to any other antibiotic. Instead, it is constantly being used for sinus infections and UTIs and simple upper respiratory infections, and is being prescribed for children and older adults, despite being contraindicated.

  5. The doubters are even worse when you aren’t a doctor. I was crippled for years from these antibiotics and I was not taken seriously. Worse, these antibiotics are all through our food supply because of their use in agriculture. I have to eat an expensive diet with constant vigilence, and take large doses of magnesium regularly because our food supply is constantly redosing me with Quinolone antibiotics.

  6. I am truly sorry that you had to go through the extreme adverse reactions that so many of us have experienced. In my case, it was 2 pills of levaquin, combined with a high dose of prednisone and 2 steroid inhalers for an asthma exacerbation ( no infection, the levaquin was prescribed as a “prophylactic measure”) that resulted in the destruction of my life as I knew it, ending up with being forced to retire on disability from a job that I loved.

    Within 4 hours of the first pill I developed sever tremors, tinnitus and audial hallucinations, as well as severe insomnia. The doctor insisted it couldn’t be the levaquin, even those very symptoms are clearly described in the drug information, as well as the information that combining fluoroquinolones with certain steroids ( including prednisone) can increase the risk. I was talked into taking the second pill, but stopped after that, having thoroughly read up on the issues and convinced that it was indeed the levaquin.

    8 days later, while in a hotel room 1000 miles from home, an atomb bomb went off in my body in the middle of the night. I felt like there were hot pokers running through every joint in my body. burning sensations in my hands and feet, and an electrical sensation running around my head, as well as these weird vibratory sensations in various parts of my body internally.

    A few weeks later I briefly lost the ability to walk- I had to crawl from my bed to the bathroom, I had to drag myself up and down the stairs in my condo using the handrails. Intense physical for 4 months actually compounded some of the problems, leaving me with chronic tendonosis in my hamstring tendon on my left leg, chronic tendonisis in one shoulder, and recurring bouts of plantar fasciitis in both feet, as well as an inability to rebuild muscle, despite daily exercise including resistance training in water.
    I developed permanent peripheral neuropathy and tremors ( in my hands and voice), chronic insomnia ( I still, 5 years later, do not sleep more than 2 hours at a time). I am in pain from joints and tendons 24/7. I have problems with cognitive function. The tinnitus is horrendous. Fortunately the audial hallucinations are now fairly rare, but still do occur occasionally.

    And i STILL encounter doctors who refuse to believe that the fluoroquimolones can cause these adverse effects, despite the warnings by the manufacturers ( which are inadequate) and the FDA’s continued updates on the fact that these drugs CAN AND DO cause permanent and disabling adverse effects in some patients.

    attached is the news story done on my case back in 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7XsTeAHFjc

  7. I’ve wondered if this had caused some of my reactions and chronic medical conditions as I had to go off of Cipro but I hadn’t heard of this back then. I don’t even remember what I was prescribed Cipro for but its on my list of drugs not to take. I don’t really know where to go to read more, and I feel pretty much ignored by doctors though I’ve gone to many trying to figure things out through the years.

    1. Hi Chandra. I’m sorry you are one of us. If you go to facebook and copy in FQ Groups and Pages Page you will find some more info about FQs and links to a growing collection of support groups, awareness pages and so on. I hope to see you there where we have lots of info to help you. Best wishes, Mark A Girard

  8. Kazz Kelley says:

    It DOES take a dr learning the hard way, in most cases, to really understand what this drug can do. I’m saddened by what happened to this man, but at the same time, glad that he got to experience it first hand and make his own come back. He’s a lucky man to be able to afford the stem cell therapy that helped him recover. Most of us are not that lucky. I was poisoned by this drug MANY times, and with each passing prescription, I slowly got worse and worse until I was in a wheelchair too. The first time was levafloxacin in the hospital for a uterine infection, while I was having my daughter. She now some has kidney damage, but is not nearly as bad as I am, THANK GOD!
    Luckily with alternative medicine I’ve recovered quite a bit, although not completely. For YEARS I thought I had MS, or pernicious anemia (severe vitamin B12 deficiency), but turns out the drs that were trying to help me, were the ones making me sicker and sicker. At one point I tried to end my life over and over, but my children’s beautiful faces stopped me. That almost wasn’t enough tho. The side effects were so crippling and painful I thought about dying every single day, as a sweet relief to end my suffering. I almost lost my sight. My right eye kept blacking out vision, I had several mini strokes, dystonia, seizures, every day migraines, muscle waste, brain damage, central nervous system issues, I had days I was so lethargic that I would have narcoleptic tendencies, falling asleep while sitting, or standing. My husband would get mad at me for falling asleep in the middle of conversations, my kidneys are wrecked, I had several signs of cell death in my brain scan.
    I didn’t figure out what was truly wrong with me until a person I met through an MS support group on fb, private messaged me, asking me if I had ever taken cipro, levaquin or avelox. I told her I had taken generic brand cipro, and she told me more about the condition, and pointed me towards a support group for it, and gave me some suggestions on alternative treatments; CoQ10, magnesium, and Sam-e, which she said helped her. Once I started taking those 3 things along with occasional vitamin D3, I was walking again, I didn’t even have to use my walker anymore, I was able to stay awake and stay focused, it’s like I was slowly coming back to life again. I thank that woman that told me about this every day, because she saved my life! I honestly think, if I would have taken that drug 1 more time, I might be dead. I’m crying while writing this, because this was such a horrible memory of myself, it still pains me to this day, to know all my anguish was caused by the drs I was looking to for help. Now, I just don’t trust doctors anymore especially since none of them believe me and have suggested I seek “behavioral health”.
    I handle ALL my symptoms myself, and by doing that, I have made my own fate, and am living a much happier life. I’m still crippled, and still have times where my legs don’t want to work, and I have dystonia to this day, but the symptoms are so mild now compared to before. I owe the woman that saved me, my LIFE. Had she not spoke up, I would not be around for my children one way or another. Thank you for this story, I hope it opens at least a few more drs’ eyes going forward.

  9. Karl Kanthak says:

    These drugs flattened me. This PBS Newshour video explains how dangerous drugs like this stay on the market. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/certain-antibiotics-spur-widening-reports-of-severe-side-effects

  10. Mary Kasper says:

    I was poisoned by Avelox in 2008. I don’t know how I made it through the first 3 years with the debilitating pain, tendon tears, fatigue, trouble swallowing, and awful brain fog. This drug never leaves your body. It gets into your tendons and weakens them. At any moment something as simple as rolling over in bed can cause a tear. (I’m still recovering from a torn meniscus from that) One of the worst aspects of this poisoning is the fact that Doctors don’t understand that this can happen, and can cause further injuries trying to treat the symptoms., It is very hard to have a disease that is not visible. I’ve missed out on so much over the past decade from this. I’ve finally accepted that I won’t get the lost time back, or be totally pain free again. I will never take another drug without thinking that
    the cure can be worse than the illness.

  11. Thank you for covering this- there are tens of thousands (if not more) of us in the US alone. No one hears about it because we lose our jobs, many of us lose our ability to communicate, and we just disappear from public life. I was a 29 years old high school art teacher who opened every class with a piece of music from across the globe, and closed with a geography lesson tied to that music’s place of origin. I took one pill after being intimidated by the doctor when I read the Rx sheet and questioned him. Now my body wide connective tissue degeneration keeps me from leaving my home or projecting my voice. All for an infection that had already passed!

    The stem cell treatment that helped Dr. Ghalili isn’t covered by any insurance, because it’s “experimental’… but there are no accepted treatments- we are just abandoned and written off.

    We have no legal recourse either, because of the protections doctors and the Pharmaceutical industry enjoy.

  12. I went from a healthy athlete to someone who needs a major joint surgery every 2 years since taking the fluoroquinolone antibiotic Cipro in 2003. Eight surgeries in 14 years is no way to spend a life. Yes this can happen to you. Look it happened to this doctor. These antibiotics are life changing – in a good way sometimes, but in a bad way often too. Don’t take them unless you are on your death bed. Thanks for this coverage.

  13. Thank you so much for doing this story. I am saddened what happened to this doctor and to the millions of us who have completely lost our lives to this chemo drug posing as an antibiotic. This class of drugs has left me crippled. It has caused cognitive impairment, peripheral neuropathy, tendon ruptures, constant pain, lack of mobility, inability to care for myself.. The medical bills are destroying us financially, too. People who coping with the effects of this drug are heroic. Those who couldn’t cope, I understand. The collateral damage from this drug goes well beyond people’s ability to even imagine how bad is bad. And there’s no real cure. Much of the damage is permanent. I hope that doctors will stop prescribing this drug completely. It’s poison.

  14. Corrie Clay says:

    Please tell me the name of the doctor experienced in fluoroquinolone toxicity in San Diego.
    I would like to see him asap.
    Thank you!

  15. Tina Renee says:

    Levofloxacin generic for Levaquin or Avelox.
    ( Fluoroquinolone )
    Since being prescribed this medication in 2005 through present dates ( as far as I have records for thus far, ) I have been diagnosed with neuropathy in my feet and legs, that has now affected my hands, arms, and wrist, my stomach, and my bowel. I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm on 4/13/2018. Since taking the last antibiotic, I have had severe shoulder pain, which the doctor says is not related to the aneurysm.
    Early on these drugs were prescribed and filled as name brand. Levaquin, 2005, and again in 2007. Avelox in 2011. Also Cephalexin, Ciprofloxacin, and Ciprodex. Later I find it changed to Levofloxacin. This was due to me becoming sick enough to be put on local Medicaid ( through my state, which will only pay for generic, not name brand. ) The first of these medications were paid for by me.
    I am certain that at least one of the prescribing doctors pushed this medication, because on the recent records he prescribed it several times, in just a short period of time. Which is well something I think is wrong and should be changed.
    Thus far my health has been nothing but a horrible, miserable nightmare. A life as to where I depend on pain medication ( some of the strongest pain medications prescribed, ) daily to just cope. This is not a good quality of life, but part of my everyday life. I have been treated, and talked to like a dog, I have under-gone the worst possible treatment that a human being can go through/should never go through. I am no doctor, but certainly realize that this medication has played a role in my life that forever changed my future. I have undergone two major surgeries that I am certain has been a role of this. I have had my gall bladder removed, have had a hysterectomy to go back in to have my appendix taken out around a week later, and had a growth removed that took away my thyroids and para-thyroids, that was attached to my voice box and air way. Been hospitalized for my heart ( on several occasions, ) and for several infections.
    I have tried seeking counsel about this, but each and everyone says because of the last script being a generic form, that they can not help me. So I am now starting a blog on this subject, in hopes that I can now, or later on myself, or my family can take legal action against not only the pharmaceutical companies, but the insurance companies that forced me to take the generic ( Medicaid. ) And possible against the doctors who continues to prescribe this medication after knowing the facts just as to what all side effects these medications caused. ( I believe that in most cases not only one be the blame, but all. )
    After reading yet another story, written by a doctor, I now know why I have suffered with severe yeast infections, and have been treated medical for them repeatedly over the last year more than 6 times. The list just keeps growing.

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