What is levofloxacin?
Levofloxacin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of certain infections, including pneumonia, acute worsening of chronic bronchitis, anthrax, urinary tract infections, acute sinus infections, and others.
One of the infections mentioned above—pneumonia—is a type of bacterial respiratory disease and is considered opportunistic infections. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.
Levofloxacin can also be used “off-label” to treat other opportunistic infections of HIV infection. “Off-label” use refers to use of an FDA-approved medicine in a manner different from that described on the medicine label. Good medical practice and the best interests of a patient sometimes require that a medicine be used “off-label.”
What HIV-related opportunistic infections is levofloxacin used for?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the HIV-related uses of levofloxacin to:
- Disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) disease from recurring (called secondary prophylaxis or maintenance therapy). (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Disseminated MAC disease. (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Active tuberculosis (TB) disease. (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Certain bacterial enteric infections, such as salmonellosis (also known as Salmonella infection), shigellosis, and campylobacteriosis. (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Certain bacterial respiratory diseases, including pneumonia.
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of levofloxacin recommended in the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking levofloxacin?
Before taking levofloxacin, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to levofloxacin or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing pills, difficulty remembering to take pills, or any health conditions that may prevent your use of intravenous medicines.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether levofloxacin can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Levofloxacin should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking levofloxacin when pregnant.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Levofloxacin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how levofloxacin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between levofloxacin and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from levofloxacin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take levofloxacin?
Take levofloxacin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much levofloxacin to take and when to take it. Before you start levofloxacin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should levofloxacin be stored?
- Store levofloxacin tablets and oral solution at 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
- Keep levofloxacin tablets in a tightly closed container.
- Store levofloxacin injection pre-mixed solution for intravenous infusion (single-use in flexible container) at or below 77°F (25°C), protect from light, avoid excessive heat, and do not freeze.
- Do not use levofloxacin if the original seal over the bottle opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away levofloxacin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep levofloxacin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about levofloxacin?
More information about levofloxacin is available:
Last Reviewed: April 17, 2015