The People's Chemist

Drug Rep Exposes Antibiotics: Risks Outweigh Benefits, You Have Alternatives

My daughter was 3 years old when she had her first emergency room visit. Suffering from high fever and chest pain, every muscle in her fragile body tensed for air. Her lungs were being attacked by pneumonia. The antibiotic penicillin saved her life.

Today, antibiotics are a luxury that previous generations didn’t have. But their overuse is slowly killing us. Not only are they inciting a massive wave of side-effects, but they’re also training bacteria how to evade our most potent medicines.

If our current use of antibiotics continues at this rate, antibiotic resistance will soon yield all current medications useless according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that means, we have no more defenses against biological nasties – our longevity would go back to the Stone Age, where every infection was life threatening.

Antibiotic medications should never be used as a first line of defense against common illness. When I wrote Over-The-Counter Natural Cures, I taught that the lucky run we’ve had with antibiotics is over and we need to start relying on our own immune system – innate and adaptive immunity. In addition, to strengthen our natural defenses, we need to start using natural medicines like andrographis, which are proven to ward off biological nasties, safely and quickly.

7 Things Prescription Antibiotics Should Never Be Used For:

  • Ear infection
  • Strep throat
  • Flu
  • Bee Stings
  • Common cold
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Preventive medicine during or after birth in hospital

(Using antibiotics as preventive medicine is totally ridiculous because you have no way knowing what strain of bacteria you are trying to prevent and therefore have no idea what medication to use, since all antibiotics target different strains.)

Former Pharmaceutical Rep – John Fratti – Warns Against Antibiotics

Most people don’t know that antibiotics are being overused or that they have alternatives. And that’s dangerous. Former drug rep and contributor to the above PBS story, John Fratti, tells us why. Here, he bravely outlines how the drug industry, along with the FDA, keeps this information from patients and doctors and how his own efforts have been silenced. It almost reads like a criminal plot against patients, but in reality, it’s another example of how the modern day business model of Big Pharma is fueled by wealth, not health.

In his own words…

Once upon a time I could run, jump and play many different sports. Those days are now long gone. They’ve been replaced by a life of constant physical and neurological pain caused by the antibiotic Levaquin.

Levaquin is in a class of antibiotics called quinolones, for short. Examples of others include Cipro, Avelox, and Floxin. They are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics today – prescribed for urinary tract, sinus and respiratory infections, just to name a few. What differentiates this class from others is that they have the ability to cause severe and permanent disability – making the risks far greater than the rewards.

Many of these side effects can occur weeks to months after taking the antibiotics, so many people never associate their health problems to the drug, which puts thousands of future patients at risk. 

Ironically, I was a pharmaceutical sales rep for over eight years prior to taking Levaquin.

I worked hard to obtain a master’s degree and lived a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t smoke, drink or do anything illegal. I was simply given a legal drug called Levaquin due to a suspected bacterial infection. I now live with many different physical and neurological impairments and am unable to have a career of any kind as a result. I wish I was more informed…Like you, now.

The Three Most Dangerous Antibiotics

  1. Levaquin
  2. Vancomycin
  3. Bactrim

Drug Rep Speaks Personally to FDA and Pharma Shareholders

My main goal now is to help others avoid taking antibiotics at all cost by understanding the risks. I spoke personally to the FDA and even spoke to Levaquin shareholders!

On November 17th, 2010, I made a presentation to Dr. Karen Weiss who was head of the FDA “Safe Use” Program. Dr. Weiss took no action, not even a minor label change despite the mountain of evidence and my own story documenting dangers of Levaquin. Dr. Karen Weiss has since left the FDA to work for Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Levaquin. I contacted the FDA to find out whether it was an ethics violation for her to work for Johnson & Johnson after leaving the FDA. I was told that “this is not any type of ethics violation.”

(This FDA revolving door is a situation that helps greedy pharmaceutical executives but harms the public – FDA employees are often rewarded with lucrative jobs at the very companies they are suppose to regulate.)

I also bought shares of Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) so that I could attend their annual shareholder meeting. This was a very difficult trip for me based on my health and the expenses, yet was well worth it because I was able to speak on the microphone directly to CEO, Mr. William Weldon. I kept my speech very civil and respectful. I didn’t ask for anything. I simply wanted more safety warnings on Levaquin and for medical research to help find remedies for those of us that are suffering.

The JNJ shareholders applauded my speech.

CEO William Weldon actually sat down with me after the meeting. He said he was sorry about what happened to me from Levaquin. I gave him medical documentation on this issue. He told me that he would look into it and help.

I have yet to hear back from him. I thought he was being sincere. I realize now that he was more interested in doing damage control for PR.

I Had No Idea The FDA Got Paid By Big Pharma

In my research as a drug rep, I was shocked to find out that the FDA gets approximately 50% of their funding for the review of medications directly from the pharmaceutical companies in what is called prescription drug user fees. This is an absurd conflict of interest that has made the FDA very slow and often reluctant to react to drug toxicities of all kinds. “What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks the FDA is doing is as different as night and day,” is a telling quote from Dr. Herbert Ley, former commissioner of the FDA.

Real Science Proves Antibiotic Dangers

Dr. Jay Cohen, a medical researcher and associate professor at the University of California, San Diego published a paper on severe peripheral neuropathy caused by quinolones. He mentions that these debilitating reactions are not rare and that most doctors have dismissed patient complaints that quinolones can cause this type of long term damage even though it is mentioned in the package insert.

He warns that if one person in 100 suffers a grave side effect, it can still mean millions of people will suffer because less than 10% of all adverse drug reactions get reported.

David Flockhart, professor of medicine and chief of clinical pharmacology at Indiana University School of Medicine, says as many as a third of patients taking a quinolone will experience some sort of psychiatric side effect, such as anxiety, personality change, or confusion. ” The psychiatric effects of the quinolones are under appreciated by the medical profession as well as by the public,” says Dr. Flockhart, who has treated more than one hundred patients with severe psychiatric side effects. Many doctors unfortunately dismiss or even outright deny that quinolones can cause debilitating chronic health problems.

Six Antibiotic Side Effects Most Doctors Won’t Warn You About

  1. Nerve damage
  2. Joint pain
  3. Anxiety
  4. Confusion
  5. Agitation
  6. Severe depression

Many victims have tried hard to get the quinolone toxicity story to the media. This has been very difficult. The pharmaceutical industry controls so much of the mainstream media with their advertising revenue, and therefore most news sources are reluctant to allow an opposing point-of-view.

Before anyone takes a quinolone antibiotic they have the right to know that it can cause irreversible damage, and that their are alternatives. That’s all I’m asking. I have since started a blog at and hopefully it will have an impact at letting people hear this urgent message. I thank for giving me this opportunity to raise awareness. It is very much appreciated.


John Fratti
Disabled pharmaceutical sales rep.

How to Choose the Safest Antibiotic

At times, extreme infections demand synthetic antibiotics, but only after a lab test is done to verify, never before. Once confirmed, work with your doctor to choose the safest medication, which are those that have a long history of use, are not “cocktails” of medications, confer very little damage to liver and kidney and do not attack connective tissue.

4 of the Safest Antibiotics

  1. 1. Penicillin
  2. Amoxicillan
  3. Cephalexin (Keflex)
  4. Erythromycin

To further increase the safety profile of these medications, consume with plenty of purified water, milk thistle and probiotics, which help rebuild the “good”bacteria in your gut that is destroyed by antibiotics. And last, never consume alcohol while taking meds.

The euphoria over antibiotics can be strong. Especially after experiencing their amazing ability to rescue a loved one from the grips of a life-threatening illness, which I did. But we can’t let it overpower our logic and push us to overuse medications that can have lasting side-effects.

About the Author

My name is Shane “The People’s Chemist” Ellison. I hold a master’s degree in organic chemistry and am the author of Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded Edition (SourceBooks). I’ve been quoted by USA Today, Shape, Woman’s World, US News and World Report, as well as Women’s Health and appeared on Fox and NBC as a medicine and health expert. Start protecting yourself and loved ones with my FREE report, 3 Worst Meds.


The People’s Chemist provides these articles for information only. They are not meant to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and do not replace professional medical advice from a medical doctor. I am not a doctor and would only “play doctor” if I was with my wife. In fact, I have not even read Grey’s Anatomy.

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