Toxic Neuropathy Drugs

“There is a daunting list of toxins that can affect the peripheral nervous system,” according to a study published by Dr. Hani Kusiaf of the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

A host of potentially toxic neuropathy and myopathy drugs are unintentionally being released from research laboratories around the world, because the effects are only seen after prolonged use by the subjects.


Some of the reported culprits include:

  • statins
    “… long-term treatment with statins caused a clinically silent but still definite damage to peripheral nerves when the treatment lasts longer than 2 years.”
  • daptomycin
    (Cubicin) Leaflet by Novartis advises, “Physicians should be alert to signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in patients receiving Cubicin.”
  • imatinib
    “Peripheral neuropathy as an adverse effect of imatinib therapy.”
  • hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
    “Most cases manifest as insidious onset proximal myopathy that may be associated with peripheral neuropathy and cardiac myotoxicity.”
  • highly active antiretroviral therapy (NTRIs)
    “Patients treated with nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) develop a varying degree of myopathy or neuropathy after long-term therapy.”
  • tandutinib
    “… tandutinib is toxic to the neuromuscular junction.”
  • bortezomib
    “Peripheral neuropathy is a significant toxicity of bortezomib, requiring dose modification and potential changes in the treatment plan when it occurs.”
  • angel’s trumpet
    “This case of acute motor axonal neuropathy type Guillain-Barré syndrome is novel in that the cause was established as ingestion of a toxic solanaceous plant, angel’s trumpet…”
  • cisplatin (cancer-fighting platinum agent)
    “…cisplatin is the most neurotoxic, inducing mainly sensory neuropathy of the upper and lower extremities.”
  • tumor necrosis factor α antagonists
    “Demyelinating neuropathy is a rare adverse event of anti–TNF-α therapy.”
  • cobalt-chromium
    “… severe auditory and optic nerve toxicity in patients exposed to an abnormal release of cobalt and chromium from damaged hip prostheses.”
  • ixabepilone
    “Peripheral neuropathy (PN), associated with ixabepilone treatment, is usually mild to moderate, predominantly sensory and cumulative.”
  • aerosolised porcine neural tissue
    “The neurological disorder described is autoimmune in origin and is related to occupational exposure to multiple aerosolised porcine brain tissue antigens.”

While these toxic neuropathic agents only show their true colors currently under specific circumstances, neuropathy and myopathy are being recognized as definite effects from the body being subjected to these novel and unnatural chemicals.

As many of these substances are tested only a limited population, exposure to a greater amount of people may lead to an exponentially greater number of reported adverse reactions, such as neuropathies and myopathies, in the future.

Alemtuzumab Approved For Multiple Sclerosis

The FDA has approved alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) as a treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis.

The FDA was careful to cite that use of alemtuzumab was a high-risk option since the drug may cause an increased risk for malignancies, including thyroid cancer, melanoma, lymphoproliferative disorders, neuropathy, which in some instances proved fatal.

The medication is also marketed as Campath, which was used as a single agent for the treatment of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). However serious, including fatal, pancytopenia/marrow hypoplasia, autoimmune idiopathic thrombocytopenia, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia occured in patients receiving Campath. Effective September 4, 2012 it was no longer available commercially, but provided through the Campath Distribution Program free of charge.

A new study performed in the UK downplayed its severe side effects with a generally favorable conclusion of “Alemtuzumab is associated with disease stabilisation in the majority of patients with highly active RRMS over an average seven-year follow-up.”

Another paper published in 2012 claimed, “Through extended follow-up, alemtuzumab remained significantly more efficacious than IFNβ-1a, with a safety profile consistent with previous reports.”

After the FDA initially rejected the approval of alemtuzumab, lobbying by Genzyme finally succeeded in a reversal of the United States position because of its use in over 30 countries around the world including Canada, Australia, Scotland, Argentina, and the entire European Union. U.S. patients could easily go to another country for treatment.

Virus-Induced Neuropathy

Recent dramatic study highlights the fact that some neuropathies can be caused by viruses.

In this case the virus is known as Dinocampus coccinellae paralysis virus (DcPV), which is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus unique to insects. The virus creates a “zombie ladybug” by inducing a neuropathy that spreads to the ladybug’s entire nervous system and paralyzing it. However DcPV seems to reside in the wasp harmlessly. The bug’s immune system itself triggers the virus into action.

When viruses infect a person’s nervous system symptoms may include pain, swelling, redness, fever and neuropathy. In the case of some viral infections, drowsiness, confusion and convulsions may also be present.

Viruses and Neuropathy

While herpes viruses are most commonly associated with rashes, they also can compromise nerve cells also. As the lead study above demonstrated, viruses can attack the nervous systems and do extensive damage to the body due to the extensive control that nerves have over the functions of organs throughout the body.