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On this episode of the Health and Wellness show we revisit the topic of Fluoroquinolone antibiotics - the devil in a pill. Floxies, victims of fluoroquinolones, are people who have been harmed by one of the most dangerous drugs Big Pharma has on the market. Mark Girard joins us today sharing his detrimental experiences with Levaquin and the numerous risks fluoroquinolones pose to our heath. Mark has spoken at FDA panels, helped develop the Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity Advocacy Page and was co-editor of the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation. Join us as we learn what it really means to be 'floxed' and how others can learn from Mark's cautionary tale.

Running Time: 01:26:39

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Tiffany: Hello and good morning, good afternoon. Welcome to another episode of the Health and Wellness Show. Today is Friday, April 28 and I am here alone. I'm your lone host today, Tiffany. Doug, Gaby, Erica, Elliot and Jonathan are all otherwise occupied. So don't worry though because we have a very special guest. This guest is someone who gave us a lot of good feedback regarding our show from a couple of weeks ago on fluoroquinolones.

So I'd like to introduce him and welcome him to the SOTT Health and Wellness Show on the SOTT Radio Network. In the studio today we have Mark Girard. He is a fluoroquinolone toxicity advocate and he is one of the people who gave us a lot of good feedback regarding our last show. So Mark, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mark: Okay. Thanks for having me here. I am 54 years old and I have been floxed for about nine-and-a-half years. I have lived in Colorado in the top of the Rockies in Leadville, Colorado and worked at Copper Mountain Ski Resort for years and then other restaurants and stuff in the area. I was living the dream, snowboarding when I wanted to on powder days and cooking in restaurants at night mostly and really working hard, playing harder and life was good.

Then one day I had some medical problems and they spiralled out of control. I had surgery for a broken ankle and basically the hardware they put in my ankle broke apart and so they had to go in and drill the broken pieces out and during that surgery I got a bursa infection in the hospital, acquired an infection that was eating at my ankle. So for that they gave me Levaquin and another antibiotic called Ancef and right away I had a horrific reaction. My blood pressure went crazy. They thought the machine was malfunctioning and rolled the machine out of my hospital room and rolled another one in and hooked it up and lo and behold, it wasn't the machine it was that my blood pressure was dropping dangerously low. Then an hour or two later it was incredibly high. My heart was racing and many, many things were going on.

They were attributing this to the fact that I was a heavy drinker. Like I said, I lived a hard life up there and partied hard. So they decided I was an alcoholic and that all the problems I was having were simply withdrawals from alcohol when I wasn't that hard of a drinker.

Tiffany: Oh that's a convenient way to ignore what was going on with you. How did you break your ankle? Was it in an accident?

Mark: Yeah, I slipped on the snow and my foot just slid sideways and my leg just sort of basically folded over and it sheared the ends of the leg bones off each leg bone, kind of a diagonal sheared-off chip. So they had to stick these screws through these pieces to try and hold it all together and that's what broke apart.

So I didn't know what was going on. There's the psychological things. I had spontaneous tendon ruptures. I had multiple tendon ruptures in my ankle where I was just sitting there and they ruptured. I've had cartilage lesions where I had to have a transplant from a dead child. I had blood clots, broken blood vessels. I've had to have veins carved from 13 different entry points in my body and now the veins are failing in that same area again and they're scheduling another identical surgery to go back in and do the same thing in the same area. I've had a collapsed lung.

I went from this rugged snowboarder guy to half a dozen bulging discs in my back in just a couple of years. The damage these drugs do is horrific. It's beyond description; head-to-toe devastation because the drugs are from a class of drugs that is normally used for chemo and they just happen to kill bacteria. It doesn't make them a bad drug. In my case I probably needed to have Levaquin but I needed 500 mg. a day for five days and he gave me 1000 mg. a day for 21 days. So it's like giving somebody chemo without telling them and then giving them six times as much as is recommended on a whim, just because.

Tiffany: When they discovered that you had this infection in your ankle, did they do a culture on you to find out which drugs the bacteria would be susceptible to? Or did they just decide to give you the fluoroquinolone?

Mark: I was already well into the treatment by the time the cultures came back. They did take a culture. Most people that get these drugs don't need them, one of the big problems. It's not that they're a bad drug it's just that they're prescribed literally thousands of times too often.

Tiffany: Yeah, I think they're given out like candy and most of the patients - I work as a nurse - most of the patients that they are given out to, they don't even bother to do a culture. People will come in with a sinus infection or a urinary tract infection and they'll notice in their urine work or blood work that they have a high white blood cell count and they'll just give them something without doing a culture.

Mark: Yup. And they go to the fluoroquinolones because they're the big guns and they work for whatever the patient is coming in for. A lot of times that'll be the doctor's approach. He just goes to Levaquin, whether they've had a dermatological infection or whether they've got a respiratory or urinary infection or whatever it is. It's just "The Levaquin, the Levaquin, the Levaquin!" It's easy to just write the prescription and move on to the next patient, whether that's because the doctor is absurdly busy or whether the doctor is racking up the bucks. People debate what the reason is. It's probably a balance of both. Whatever the reason is, the doctor goes to the Levaquin quickly or the Cipro. Those are the main two.

There is also Avelox and Factiv but together they're just a couple of percentages of the market. There are also the eardrops and the eye drops. That's one of the things. People are giving them to kids.

Tiffany: That is scary!

Mark: Yeah. Giving them to their kids and their kids aren't even young enough to describe what it is that's happening to them and these children are just going to be destroyed for life. It's horrible to think of what's going to happen to these kids. And the doctors are just absurdly overconfident in everything they prescribe. I spoke at a meeting on November 5th of 2015 at the FDA about these drugs and it was obvious from the slides that the drug industry was presenting. Their own slides showed that patients self-report to the MedWatch AERS, Adverse Event Reporting System or whatever it's called, for the fluoroquinolones. They report over 85% of the time it is the patients and normally it's almost always the doctors. The patients are also allowed to report and so 2%, 4%, 12% of the time a patient will report the problem with the drug, depending on how aware the doctors are and how serious the problems with the drug are and how aware patients are of it.

So in our case it's obvious that the doctors are completely missing and that doesn't happen in a vacuum. It had to have happened for a reason and it's clearly that the pharmaceutical industry has gone out of their way to mislead the medical community about the safety profile of these drugs, even more than they usually do and sadly doctors get the vast majority of their information about drugs from the commission's drug reps who generally have a high school education and who are trained not in how drugs work and what the benefits and disadvantages of the drugs are. They are trained in how to go in and manipulate the conversation so that the doctor buys the drug they're selling. They carefully construct the conversation so that the drug rep is not actually lying, they are simply omitting information or implying things that aren't the case or they are trained to answer a question with a question and turn the conversation in a different direction when they can't answer the question honestly and things like that.

So this is where doctors get the vast majority of their information about drugs and in our case they are obviously even more over-confident than usual. That means that when we go to the doctor and we report this list of things that's listed right there - it's not like we're making it up or something - we're there with these obviously very serious problems and they're listed on the product literature, but when you try and get the doctor to acknowledge the possibility that this long list of horrific damage that's listed right there on the product literature is related, they will look at you like you're trying to tell them that "Aliens abducted me and that's the problem". They will not believe us.

We have numerous Facebook groups, the Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group is the main group and as people show up there, consistently they have the same story again and again and again, that their doctors don't believe them. No one on their medical team or maybe one doctor, their ophthalmologist might have read that this is true and acknowledge the possibility, but then he'll say "but it must have cleared your system by now". We may be able to get that one doctor to sort of acknowledge but they're clueless as far as the head-to-toe devastation that these drugs cause.

Tiffany: Well one thing that I notice is that not only do the patients rarely read the medication information that comes with the drug, the doctors rarely do either. What we talked about in the last show on fluoroquinolones is that for example the package insert for Ciprofloxacin is 43 pages long and it doesn't get to the horrific side effects until page 10.

So doctors are very busy and like you said, they get their information from the drug reps. They probably also get it from media or maybe they might just read the abstract of a paper in a medical journal, but I don't think that most doctors put in the hard research when it comes to prescribing their patients certain medications.

Mark: No they don't I think with any medications across the board. They're just trained in a system that is beholden to the pharmaceutical industry. The hospitals and schools that they trained in receive hundred million dollar grants from pharmaceutical companies to put in whole wings of buildings and whatever. They have training programs that are focused entirely on drugs and procedures. The history of the American Medical Association 100 years ago through the course of the history of America and globally shows the doctors and the pharmaceutical industry have controlled the dialogue to monopolize the gateway to health, if you will.

They've crushed homeopathy and ridiculed Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine which have been keeping people healthy for 3,500 years, each of them and each has much knowledge that can be shared and that as we start to document it with Western techniques is proving that turmeric and things like that are just incredibly beneficial.

Tiffany: So yeah, they've basically exerted a monopoly over the health and wellness field.

Mark: Yup. They have and are and we fight it. When I spoke at the FDA, the doctors on the panel were clearly very receptive, so part of the system is working. They listened to us and voted unanimously to restrict use of the drugs. The restriction that happened last summer in 2016 was a direct result of the meetings that we had the previous November.

Tiffany: How did you arrange that because the average person, if they had a burning desire to consult with the FDA over some kind of adverse effect of a medication, how would they even go about doing something like that? How did you do it?

Mark: It was the work of a variety of people and we stand on the shoulders of the people that worked before us. We've been fighting for 30 years. I've only been at it less than a decade. But there are some people that had some connections plus we have the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation involved and they are focused on developing research but also advocacy and working with both the FDA and the CDC to try and improve our situation. I don't have a whole lot of faith in either the FDA or the CDC and think that they're both corrupted heavily at the top.

There were two panels in the meeting. It was a very rare meeting with actually the industry and two panels and the media and the victims, all in one big room. Not only did the doctors vote with us but then they spent another hour-and-a-half just ripping into the pharmaceutical industry people and confronting them and putting them on the spot to try and answer questions. It was obvious even afterwards when I tried to network with some of the doctors on the industry side it was clear they just really don't give a darn about us and they're in it for the money.

You know these people exist. It's happening. It's one thing to know they're out there. It's another thing to actually be in a room and confront them and tell your story and be one of many people that tells just these heart-wrenching stories. And this just went right over these people's heads. Didn't touch them at all.

Tiffany: They weren't moved at all.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. How can you be like that? I don't get it.

Tiffany: One of the most disconcerting things that I notice when someone testifies at the FDA regarding some kind of damage that they suffered, the drug company PR people always come out and they say how the drug has been on the market for X number of years and has a proven safety record and it should be used only according to the instructions that are on the package insert and when they're used correctly they have a great track record of success and they just say nothing to address the damage that's actually been caused and the evidence that's basically looking them right in the face.

Mark: Yeah. They'll just sit there and say that. And that's a carefully worded thing, "When used as prescribed Levaquin has been used successfully for 30 years" or blah, blah, blah. Well first of all the MedWatch reporting system that went into place part way through those 30 years is just an abject failure. At best it gets one in 100 and I think probably in our case, since our numbers were 20 times worse in that meeting, we're guessing that one out of every 2,000 cases is getting reported.

So first, those numbers are just absurd and then those numbers also again are carefully couched in that wording "when used as prescribed". One study that we read showed that this was one out of every 88 times; that 87 out of 88 times either no antibiotic was required in the first place. It was either a viral infection or it was not an infection at all, a poisoning or whatever, and then when an antibiotic was warranted, the first antibiotic of choice would almost always not be a fluoroquinolone. And then on those rare occasions where a fluoroquinolone is actually the warranted antibiotic you would still have the doctor doing as mine did, prescribing the drugs in conjunction with other drugs that are contraindicated.

I was given Aleve or naproxen sodium in massive doses at the same time which is not supposed to be done and I was on a collection of other drugs because of the problems I'd been having with the surgery and the infection and some other medications that I was just on. I had indigestion so I was on a proton pump inhibitor, Prevacid and those are also contraindicated. And then as things got worse and the blood clots showed up, they put me on Warfarin which is also contraindicated. It's the way doctors work. They're just completely oblivious to the possibility that the problems we are suffering are a result of the prescriptions they've given us and they're first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth response is to still pull out the prescription pad. I was on 13, 14, 15 different drugs in the intensive care unit before one of the doctors in the intensive care unit said "Hey, he's reacting to all these drugs. Take him off the drugs!" They took me off the drugs. A few days later I went from the intensive care unit back into the main wing of the hospital.

It's their overconfidence in the drugs. They're not even tested adequately by themselves. The reason it costs so much to test drugs is because they run the same test 20 or 30 or 50 or 100 times so that they can get the one with the best numbers. Then they get to throw away all those other tests. Only the very best one gets counted and then they'll follow people for two months and then walk away and say "Okay, it's determined safe."

Tiffany: Two months is pushing it too. With a lot of the studies they only follow them for two weeks!

Mark: Yeah, the Gardasil vaccine, four days! It was 112 girls for four days, something like that. It was like "Boom! Okay, it's safe!" And they unleash it on the population like that.

Tiffany: It's as if someone doesn't immediately drop dead right after receiving the dose then they consider it a success. But an interesting thing you said about the medications not being tested, they're not being tested alone long-term. They're not being tested in conjunction with other medications and like you said, the fluoroquinolones should not be given in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aleve or ibuprofen or with steroids like prednisone.

Mark: Yeah. On the one hand the FDA is saying "Do not prescribe these together". Those are standard warnings both in the FDA's literature and in the product literature from the various producers - Bayer, Johnson & Johnson primarily - and yet there are FDA approved drugs that have fluoroquinolones and steroids in the same eye drops. It's like one hand doesn't know what the other foot's doing or whatever. It's because it's just amazing that you can have warnings like that on a drug and clear, obvious patterns of horrific adverse reactions when this is done and yet these drugs that they're giving to kids and little babies, eye drops and ear drops that have steroids and fluoroquinolones in them, and preservatives! There's the thimerosal. They're putting these drops in the babies and it's guaranteed there's going to be horrific results for every one of them. It's just going to be a matter of degree.

Tiffany: It's malpractice. There's no other way to actually put it. It's malpractice. You said when you first took the drug after your surgery that the first thing you noticed was that your blood pressure was dropping at a rapid rate. When did you tie it into the fact that you took the drug?

Mark: Three-and-a-half years later.

Tiffany: Three-and-a-half years.

Mark: I went from being food and beverage director at a beautiful lodge in a remote Colorado mountain area, just really enjoying life and before I knew what happened I'd lost everything I had and was living in a car that wasn't being paid for and they were trying to collect and I was homeless on the streets north of Denver and staying in construction projects and friends' couches sometimes and Walmart parking lots. And my friends and family were concerned because I went from being a solid, productive, predictable person and this was not me.

Tiffany: So during those three years what did you think was wrong with you?

Mark: Well actually I was exposed to contaminated syringes at the same time and so I wasn't really looking for anything. And the blood clots are known in fluoroquinolone toxicity, but that was also the telltale injury in the heparin disaster. This was right at the same time, 2007. There was a company in North Carolina that was moving around from one little storefront to another just a step ahead of the FDA, packaging syringes of heparin. And they were buying clean syringes and buying clean batches of heparin and doing contract work to package the heparin in the syringes. Where the company was supposed to be hiring technicians that had Masters degrees in molecular biology and so on and so forth, they had high school dropouts chewing gum. This was supposed to be a clean room. When the FDA did bust in the syringes were piled in a corner on the floor and they were scooping them with a snow shovel onto a table and people were chewing gum and smoking cigarettes and packaging these syringes. It was just a horror story.

Tiffany: So you thought that you had come in contact with a dirty heparin needle and that was what was responsible for all the symptoms that you were experiencing?

Mark: Yup. I was in a lawsuit except the CEO of the company managed to take the money, go back to India, get an identity change and disappear. The letter came. I was suicidal feeling. I didn't know what was going on. Hit my wife. I was disoriented. At the time sort of staying in a friend of a friend's basement and the letter came and I thought that it was going to be the settlement or at least an announcement of what the settlement would be and it was like "The case is over. There's no case. The guy is gone."

So at that point is when I was giving away my possessions from that friend's basement because his house was repossessed. So that's when I went out on the streets and was just giving away all my prized possessions. My friends got concerned. I was on the brink of suicide and it was obvious and so friends got hold of family.

Tiffany: Can you describe the moment or the series of events that led up to your discovery that it was fluoroquinolone toxicity?

Mark: Okay, well I'd moved from Colorado to Canada. I live with my sister now who is also floxed, that we've determined because there's definitely a genetic component to this. She and the family stepped up and I moved in with her and it was not too long after that I was on the internet searching around and looking at things and there was an article in a publication called Alternet and it had "Hey, do you have any of these 16 symptoms?" It's like I have every one of those symptoms. "Have you taken this drug?" And I'm like I took that drug and I'm pretty sure it was right before this happened.

So I looked at the paperwork and sure enough it was right before everything turned to hell. It was that I'd taken Levaquin. And further research showed that about two months before that I was given Cipro for a cold. Actually they shouldn't even be allowed to prescribe these drugs unless you're in a hospital but the way it is now, doctors are allowed to prescribe them. They should at the very least be required to check if a patient has had them before, recently, in the system, the pharmacy. There needs to be better checks put in place for this and other situations like this because taking drugs as prescribed is killing a quarter of a million Americans a year, more or less. That's just insane!

Tiffany: Well prescription drugs deaths, I think the last time I checked, were the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Mark: Yes. Doctors are the leading cause of death. They have to break it down into prescription drugs taken as prescribed is third, prescription deaths taken not as prescribed might be like seventh, doctor malpractice in surgery is 17th. They add up to doctors killing more people than cancer and heart attacks combined. Doctors are the leading cause of death and this is one of their favourite weapons now, the fluoroquinolones.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Mark: They're well intentioned, the vast majority.

Tiffany: I think they're well intentioned. I think there's a lot - and I don't say this word in a negative way - there's just a lot of ignorance and a lot of failing to do due diligence and do your research and a lot of it goes to what you said earlier about how the doctors were trained. They're pretty much connected to their prescription pads. They really don't have any other tools besides that.

Mark: Yeah, that's it. The only tool in the kit. The only tools in the kit are the prescription drugs and they are raised in a system that teaches them that this is the best thing going and that this is what we have available and they are taught that everything else is quackery. Even just basic common sense - nutrition, sunlight, hydration. When we have a health issue which first of all if we lived healthy we probably wouldn't have 19 out of 20 of these health issues or whatever, and if they did we should be addressing it with health. I firmly believe that everybody should have a holistic doctor and that only when the holistic doctor deems it necessary would a Western medicine doctor become involved and prescribe some sort of toxic chemical or radioactive intervention, things that have proven to be successful at times and helpful that but should not be our go-to.

Tiffany: I firmly agree with that. I think that first of all people should take primary responsibility for their own health and if they have things that they can't figure out they should be seeing a holistic doctor and Western medicine or allopathic medicine should be a last resort, like cases of an extreme infection or a trauma or broken bones or things like that. That's where I think that Western medicine does okay, like emergency situations. But as far as chronic long-term care of people's health, no. They fall very short.

Mark: Yup.

Tiffany: I do want to say that one of our co-hosts, Doug joined us on the call. Doug are you there? Sounds like he is not here.

Mark: Okay. I saw his face pop up on the screen.

Doug: Hi. Yes I'm here. Hi Mark.

Tiffany: Oh, he's here. Hello Doug.

Doug: Can you not hear me?

Tiffany: Yes I can hear you.

Mark: Yes I can hear you now.

Doug: Oh, you can hear me. Sorry, I was muted there for a second. Hi Mark.

Mark: Hello.

Doug: I came in late so I was just listening there for a while. Pretty amazing story Mark. I had a quick question for you. You mentioned before something about a genetic component to these people who are getting floxed. Can you maybe expand on that a little bit? Is that kind of a known thing or is it just suspected at this point?

Mark: Well it's hard to even know. Yes it's known thing. We have a group called the Fluoroquinolones Research Group. There's a whole lot of Facebook groups, support groups and groups focused on different things, but yes, it is obviously a genetic thing where some of us are unable to process certain elements or substances in our bodies. The MTF...

Tiffany: The MTHFR?

Mark: Yeah, that one.

Tiffany: A defect in the methylation pathways where you can't detox.

Mark: Yeah. So there's finding that the vast majority of us seem to have that issue and where the cause and effect is, is not necessarily so established, whether we got floxed because we have that or whether we have that because we got floxed. That's a whole 'nother thing. There are certain people who are predisposed to not being able to process certain things, so that runs in the family.

So for another aspect, in the main group we have dozens and dozens and dozens of cases where you have a father and a daughter or siblings, like my sister and I, or cousins and so on and so forth, where we have family clusters of people that are in there who are all floxed. So we know that from that standpoint too and we tell people "If this has happened to you, you need to tell your family that there's a really good chance it's going to happen to them if they take these drugs."

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah, not only are they genetically linked because they're in the same family but often the same family members will go to the same doctor and the doctor does the same thing that they did to the other family member.

Mark: Yup. Make the same mistakes and then they'll fail to recognize the same adverse reaction and they'll make the same mistakes in following through with prescribing. It's like "Oh, you're having a reaction. Here, you'll need acetaminophen or Aleve" and whatever else and just exacerbating this with steroids. A lot of people end up with the steroids and that's enough to really make things worse.

And what's really strange is that years later we still react to those same drugs. I'm almost 10 years out and I can't take Advil or Aleve without getting a wicked burst of neuropathy, disorientation, thumping heart and stuff. So for some reason we continue to have these adverse reactions with the drugs, the NSAIDs, the steroids and a wide variety of other drugs. Any fluorinated drug basically is one of the issues.

The original nalidixic acid and other quinolones, the "quins" as they have called them for short, from the '60s and into the '70s were incredibly toxic and it was obvious when the people took them that that's what was causing the problem. But when they added the fluorine the drugs passed through membranes and into other places in the body...

Tiffany: Yeah, they added that to make it easier for the drug to cross the blood/brain barrier.

Mark: Yup. So I mean, if you have an infection in your brain or in your bone marrow, that's awesome. That means once in a long while if you are that person, this drug is really versatile in getting into all these various nooks and crannies in the body. But it also means that's where the devastation happens. If we suffer an adverse reaction we end up with a syndrome of damage from head to toe. It's not like "Oh, okay, so then a tendon ruptures." If you're going to have a tendon rupture, you're basically going to have a psychological episode that goes on for years. You're going to have hair loss. Like I said, these drugs are related to chemo. Your nails will fall off. Your teeth will crumble out. Your vision will go. Your nose will bleed. Every orifice will bleed. You will suffer horrific, nasty, horrible things and they set in either pretty much all at once or in rapid succession. It's unbelievable and you just don't know what's going on.

It's like you woke up in the Twilight Zone or in hell or something. It's mind boggling. And if you look halfway healthy or mostly healthy and you try and tell people what's going on, they just can't even believe or fathom what's happening. The doctors don't believe us and so they tell the other family members "Well, you know, he's making it up" or "he's nuts" or whatever. The way it destroys our lives is so overwhelming.

Tiffany: Well another insidious thing about this fluoroquinolones, it took you three years to figure out what was causing your symptoms. And can you imagine all these people who are suffering from what they think is fibromyalgia or Parkinson's or some other disease and they have no idea the link between the symptoms that they're having and the fact that they took fluoroquinolone at some point in the past.

Mark: Yeah, there's millions.

Tiffany: It's probably innumerable. There's no way to count it!

Mark: Yeah, millions of people in America, tens of millions around the world is a conservative estimate. A hundred million of us around the world?! This is a global catastrophe that will run into the tens of trillions of dollars as far as what it's going to cost to clean up the mess. In my mind there's no reason that these companies should be allowed to continue to exist! They need to be seized and dismantled to compensate the victims and to clean up the mess. Even the for profit model of production of pharmaceuticals is in my mind highly questioned.

Living in Canada where I went from homeless and on the streets of America where I'm in Canada and I've got healthcare and they're taking care of me and they put a shower in my house because I need a place to bathe properly. They put a ramp and a deck so I can go outside and sit outside and get up and down from my house. I'm a strong believer in socialized care for people and I believe that's the model we should have for pharmaceutical production.

The idea that companies should just be allowed to try and addict people and literally poison us, the reason that they promote these drugs aggressively and fabricate a safety profile that is just beyond believability for anybody except the doctors, the reason they do this is to cause us to be floxed. They know what's happening to us and they know that we will suddenly become lifelong customers. Maybe our lives will be cut in half, but as long as we do live, we will be needing Johnson & Johnson selling us everything from dozens of different prescription drugs to surgical supplies, to walkers, to ointments and so on and so forth.

This is a massive crime against humanity, an ongoing crime where they systematically and intentionally harm people in order to sell them more stuff.

Tiffany: In some ways socialized healthcare is a good thing. I consider it only to be a good thing if you're receiving the proper treatment. If you're not then it's just like a waste of time.

Mark: Yeah.

Tiffany: And your health is down the toilet even though your treatment is free.

Mark: Oh yeah, the whole system is so horribly broken that you're just turning around and paying for the bogus paradigm of healthcare that we have now, focused on chemicals. Chemical intervention is the primary first step and going to the atom bomb is the first choice. Going to an antibiotic in most of these situations wasn't warranted in the first place and then going to a fluoroquinolone is like using an atomic bomb to kill a fly.

It's just absurd to use a drug that strong. I mean seriously, honestly, I had that infection on my leg. They should have cut my leg off before they ever should have considered giving me a fluoroquinolone. They should be considering amputation before they should consider prescribing a fluoroquinolone and any doctor that would challenge that is an incompetent menace to his or her patients.

Tiffany: Well those are very strong words but I think they're absolutely true. It should be an absolute last resort. But as much as I think about it, I could not think of any situation if I had a massive infection where I would want to take this medication, at all.

Mark: No, I would choose my chances. I'm not saying someone else choose their chances, but I would choose my chances over any infection. Having already been harmed by this drug I'm prone to think the next one would be so horrific it would probably kill me, but I'll just take my chance with infection before I would ever take these drugs again and I literally think that's what people should do. If you are faced with anthrax or the plague, your chances with anthrax and the plague might be better than they are with these drugs, literally.

Tiffany: And that's really saying a lot!

Mark: There are traditional antibiotics, everything from garlic to colloidal silver. I'm not saying just roll over and die but I'm just saying with the options that are out there you are better off trying those options and avoiding a drug like this than you are playing Russian roulette with something as dangerous as a fluoroquinolone.

Doug: I think that one of the problems that people run into with these drugs, anyone who's having these kind of adverse effects and is trying to get to the bottom of things and is trying to tell people what's going on, is that it is almost so unbelievable. It's like all these insane side effects that people are getting and it's like "Wait a minute! You got this from an antibiotic?" Antibiotics are usually thought to be rather mundane. It's just so over the top. The different side effects that people are getting are so extreme, I can really feel for the people, like yourself Mark, who are trying to spread the word and trying to get the information out there and draw attention from their doctor or their insurance to what's actually happening. It comes back to ignorance again. People just don't know. Antibiotics are not known to cause these problems which I think is one of the big problems with these drugs.

Mark: Yup. We do just hit this incredible wall of denial from the medical community and disbelief from everyone.

Tiffany: I think that people have such a strong belief in science and scientific research and they have no idea how many bogus studies are out there or how much the drug companies tinker with their numbers and sometimes even outright fake studies to get the results that they want.

Mark: Yeah, we're definitely as a society far, far too over-confident in science. Like you said, science has been corrupted across the board, especially big pharma more than anywhere. The science that goes into proving these drugs are safe makes tobacco science look legitimate. I think with one of the studies with fluoroquinolones we were talking about the timeframe. It was a three-month study and they discovered that basically people were getting sick at three months so they skewed it to two months and called it a two-month study and they're allowed to do things like that. It's like, "Oh no, we're going to make it a two-month study."

It used to be that when you designed a study you were not allowed to deviate from the design of the study but now they basically can crunch the numbers and manipulate them and call it a different study and take the numbers they have and extrapolate them in a way that looks good and call that a study and things like that. It's fraudulent. It's gone from bad to just complete garbage.

Tiffany: And another disturbing thing is that some people might take a dose or course of Cipro or Avelox or Levaquin and they might be fine and then they take another dose and all hell breaks loose. So that would not be reflected in the studies. But I'm not such a fan of scientific studies. I'm more of a fan of actual experience from real people.

Mark: That used to be until the modern era, the doctor would listen to the patients both for information and with respecting compassion and we get neither of that now. We have cold, heartless doctors. They may care but they're crunching people through the office as quickly as possible. They're thinking right away before they even come in and talk to us, looking at the chart, "Here's the symptoms. Here's the blood pressure," this and that and they're already planning what drug they can prescribe to us or what possible options with just a little bit more information from us, that that will determine what they prescribe and the whole mindset that that's what they should be doing as opposed to sitting down and listening to us and determining what's going on. "What happened? Tell me what happened. What are you feeling? What did you do before this? Did you take an antibiotic? Did you get a vaccine? Are you on some sort of psych med or something like that?" There's just so many medications, statins, things like that that are causing horrific problems in people's lives and the doctors are just oblivious.

Tiffany: So Mark you said that you are 10 years in. How are you faring now versus at the height of your symptoms? Have things gotten any better for you?

Mark: Yeah. I wouldn't say I'm steadily improving but it's like two steps forward, one step back, three, one, two, whatever. Herky jerky. I have stretches where things improve and then my lungs collapse or something. I also am prone to concussions and every time I bump my head a bit I have a plastic insert that I wear in a ball cap to buffer the impact on my head. One of the things we suffer frequently is brain inflammation, incredible pressure inside our head. People say it feels like pressure. It is pressure! They can look at our brains with MRIs and notice the inflammation and that also leaves us prone to concussions. I bobbed my head last year pretty good. I'd already had some concussions in my life so I was super concussive for about three months and now every little bump, every little jar knocks me back into a concussive state where I need to sleep a lot and I'm dizzy and disoriented.

Tiffany: So what have you tried Mark? What kind of treatments have you tried? Are you strictly within the Western allopathic system or are you trying some alternative treatments?

Mark: No, I'm living on disability. I don't have much money to try some of the more expensive things that I see people trying on the internet. I'm also kind of fearful because an awful lot of people like to intervene. They try an intervention and it makes things worse. They find out that they are unable to metabolize - glutathione shots is the one that people get on and you can just spot these people sometimes. It's like they're brand new to the group and you're trying to tell them probiotics and magnesium are the core, hydration and eating clean food and they're looking into what they can shoot, what supplements, what new science and we're trying to tell them over and over again just take it easy. They don't look into it and they take a shot of glutathione and they're suddenly not even able to communicate on the internet much anymore.

Tiffany: Yeah, they might have a very strong detox reaction that makes their symptoms worse in the short term.

Mark: It's loosened from one part of their body but then failed to be moved and then is just circulating in the bloodstream or whatever. There are multiple, multiple steps to break things down and move them from one system to another and finally expel them and if you force a whole bunch of things along at one part of the chain and then another link in the system isn't working you end up with all these toxins that have nowhere to go.

Tiffany: Yeah, especially if your detox pathways are damaged from the oxidative stress from the fluoroquinolones in the first place.

Mark: Yup. And it's very common. So I try and eat as much organic as I can. I live in farm country. Being in farm country in Canada, I eat a lot of things half the year fresh and not necessarily certified organic but from little farms that aren't using anything nasty and the other half of the year stuff has to come from somewhere else. All year round we don't have coconut or anything like that, no Canadians. Trying to eat local and for both health reasons and save the planet type reasons, but in Canada we're kind of limited on our choices here. So we get coconut and things. I use turmeric, like I was saying.

Tiffany: That's a good anti-inflammatory.

Mark: Yeah, trying a natural anti-inflammatory. It's a mix and match. I am on morphine for chronic pain and gabapentin for nerve pain.

Tiffany: Does that help?

Mark: Yes it does. It's nasty. I hate to recommend anything from the pharmaceutical industry but the truth is they have some things that help us. I was feeling suicidal. The gabapentin, to say it made me feel suicidal isn't really accurate because I was feeling suicidal at the time but it was strange how it made me feel real casual about it, thoughts about suicide, even in the midst of some pretty psychotic episodes and suffering where common sense would say "end it now". At that point you're still worried about how it's going to affect your friends and families and pets and on and on what kind of mess might you leave and it was a very casual feeling. It was like "I'm going to go for a walk. I'm going to have some soup. I'm going to kill myself." That was very fearful.

But it went away. Within about a week all of a sudden the nerve pain - I have six bulging discs. Four of them are in my neck and two are in my lower back and the ones in my neck stopped hurting and the ones in my lower back didn't and the pain doctor started me on those and then gave me the morphine and the morphine helped with the lower back. I didn't really understand the difference between the nerve pain or regular pain. It's like "What do you mean? Pain comes from nerves or whatever." But the pinched nerves in my neck didn't and don't respond to the morphine very well but the gabapentin does help.

All in all I recommend people try and find healthy alternatives to anything from the pharmaceutical industry but I'm not opposed to trying things from big pharma.

Tiffany: So what is your outlook on this? I hope that your life is not all doom and gloom and there is actually some hope for the future and that you experience some joys in life.

Mark: Well yeah, I do. I'm actually very optimistic. I think this will become known soon. I hope to see sweeping changes. I think people are waking up to how to take care of themselves, how to fight a healthcare system that is designed to keep them unhealthy and to extract money from them.

So yeah, I'm going to keep fighting the good fight and I believe that there will be national awareness of this soon and hopefully I'm trying to get other people to work together, whether they're mesh victims or whether they have Lyme and have suffered the denial of the existence of Lyme all these years, or vaccine damaged and so on and so forth. People need to work together to beat the system that is designed to keep them down. In the legal system the lawyers take their little cut so the whole system from the top to the bottom, everybody's making money and not really trying to change it.

Tiffany: I think that reading through some of the fluoroquinolone support groups and the forums that they have, I think that a lot of people are waking up to the dangers of these drugs but it comes at an unfortunate effect that people like you have to suffer and share their stories for people to wake up. But I think that slowly people are doing that.

Mark: Yup. I agree with more and more programs, media sites. Social media I guess is really the difference right now I think. And like I say, I'm optimistic is because social media people are getting together and talking about things that they were not able to talk about before. There are waves of truth about cancer, truth about vaccines, so on and so forth. I anticipate something like that about antibiotics soon and whether they do it or whether it's something that I produce myself or with a team of people that I'm working with, we will have videos at some point soon. Yeah, we are one little piece of this bigger health puzzle where people need to empower themselves and do what it takes to be healthy and not count on a system that isn't designed to keep them healthy.

Tiffany: And they're also sharing what works for them and what doesn't work for them, like sharing certain supplements, side effects, what to expect when you take certain things like the magnesium or the vitamin C or PQQ, the pyrroloquinoline quinone that helps with mitochondrial protection and mitochondrial biogenesis because one of the major things that these drugs do is that they totally screw with the mitochondria and if you don't have healthy functioning mitochondria basically you're sick because mitochondria are everywhere.

Mark: Yup. That's the little power plants in every cell. Without power plants running at something close to full capacity nothing works right in the body. But the FDA is actually sitting on a variety of internal studies and some others studies showing that there is severe mitochondrial damage but they are slowly trickling out, the information that they have as opposed to admitting that they knew all these things all at once. I guess it's been since 2013 that we found out that these have existed since sometime before then, 2007 or something like that. They're completely and totally a captured agency working in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and not in the interests of the people they're supposed to be protecting.

Tiffany: Do you think that fluoroquinolones will ever be taken off the market, like something like Vioxx was taken off the market after people started having heart attacks left and right?

Mark: No I don't think so. They took the nalidixic and the parallel drugs off the market back then and then they took the some of the original fluoroquinolones off the market. The Tequin was banned. Floxin was banned in America. We still have it up here in Canada. So more than half of all the fluoroquinolones and quinolones have already been banned and it's possible that some of the other ones that we have now will also be banned if they prove to be particularly nasty in one regard or another. I think the Tequin was a blood sugar issue. It was causing people to have plummeting blood sugars.

These drugs probably saved my life, it's just that the doctor gave me six times too much and in conjunction with the other drugs that he shouldn't have. If they were prescribed in hospitals only in life or death situations, only in conjunction with only drugs that are safe, they have their place.

Tiffany: Yeah, those are a lot of 'onlys'.

Mark: Yeah, and if we can't make all those onlys happen then yeah, they need to take them right off the market because they're certainly doing far more harm than good. When there's media things or whatever a lot of times trolls will show up or actual people who are ignorant and show up with "Oh, gosh we can't take antibiotics off the market. They save a million people for every person they hurt!" And it's like no, no, no, these drugs are actually hurting thousands of people for every person that actually benefits from them. Sometimes the people will benefit but they would have benefitted from a safer antibiotic without the harm.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Mark: But it is a cumulative thing. Like you said, the people can take it and they feel nothing and then they take it and they feel a little twinge of anxiety or a strange pain in their thumb. And then they take it again and they're having trouble breathing and they get a little bit of anxiety. They take it again and their life is gone, as they know it, multiple things, the tendon ruptures, the cartilage lesions, the skin sagging and falling, the bleeding and internal problems, the veins failing. It's unbelievable all the things that can happen and they set in and life is over. That's it. The paperwork and the things on the media and stuff say if you're taking these drugs and you notice some pain in your tendon or whatever, call your doctor. By that time it's too late. You're screwed. It's over. The false sense of security of that and "when used properly" and stuff, they have these little words that are put in there and they know darn well that it's all a carefully fabricated façade that is designed to make the drugs look much, much, much, much safer than they are.

Tiffany: And the painfully ironic thing is the people who've been hurt by the fluoroquinolones turn back to the very same system that poisoned them in the first place and expect a cure or some answers or some help and it's really sad that they are not able to get it.

Mark: Yeah, 99.9% of the people who have had this happen to them have no clue what happened to them and have been either misdiagnosed with Lupus or Fibro or Parkinson's or ALS or Gulf War Syndrome or any of a hundred other things and their doctors then have prescribed them chemicals and worsened their situation or they've been labelled as nut cases. We have an awful lot of people stuck in mental hospitals, some just disappear, others are able to communicate with us horror stories of what's happening to them, being forced to eat garbage food and not believed whatsoever and forced to take medications that are worsening their situation horribly. It's clear that on the Cipro side of things we have been labelled as people who are seeking free disability.

Tiffany: Oh yeah.

Mark: The drug reps were clearly spreading a reputation like saying "there's a rumour out on the internet that you can scam free money by claiming that the fluoroquinolones hurt you". So whenever these people go into the office not only are they not believed but they are considered to be scum.

Tiffany: Yeah, they're malingering or they're drug seeking.

Mark: Yeah, exactly.

Tiffany: That's just dirty.

Mark: Yeah. So they do play dirty like that and so many people are victims. The vast majority of people go to the system thinking the doctor will be able to diagnose them, and he won't and that he'll have an answer for them, and he doesn't and that the answers that he thinks he has will make them worse and worsen the situation, almost all the time. It's very, very, very consistent that we do have some sort of problem metabolizing and that when we are prescribed something it makes things worse.

It's only a very rare situation where somebody gets prescribed something from a Western allopathic doctor and finds that they are able to metabolize it and it benefits them. It's not without any evidence of that, but the vast majority suffer more when the doctors continue to prescribe stuff, as I did. In hindsight literally, the blood pressure thing, I was on Hydrochlorothiazide and on Prevacid for the stomach pain plus Ondansetron for the nausea and I was on Ambien for sleep and Valium for anxiety. And I was on Oxycontin for breakthrough pain and Percocet for the main pain. And I was on Warfarin for the blood clots and I was on something else because I'd lost control of my bladder. I can't remember. All these different drugs!

Tiffany: It's so sad because that is not uncommon. That very drug cocktail I'm pretty sure I've probably come across patients who were on all of those drugs all at the same time.

Mark: Yes, yes. And then when the patient dies they think "Wow! That patient must have been so sick because we threw everything we had at him, all our best tools and still he didn't make it!" And that's their mindset. The truth is that the average doctor kills a lot of people that way. The average doctor has a trail of bodies behind him hundreds and hundreds long, just of people that he killed that he shouldn't have killed, or she. Sexist there.

Tiffany: Well if you could say something to the audience or someone who's considering taking an antibiotic or a fluoroquinolone or something, besides "Don't take it" is there any advice that you would give? {laughter}

Mark: Well I guess if they absolutely have to because sometimes people find they can't take Macrobid, they can't take the cillins, like I'm allergic to penicillin. So there are people that have to take them, in which case, they need to know to take magnesium. They need to know to take probiotics. Those are the two things, if you're taking the antibiotic, one a day, 12 hours off from that you want to take probiotics and you want to take magnesium because it takes magnesium to process these drugs and you body will come up with that magnesium from anywhere and coincidentally tendons are the biggest storehouses of magnesium in our bodies.

So that's one of the reasons that tendons rupture, because your body will suck the magnesium out of them and the biggest one is your Achilles so that's why the Achilles tendon rupture is the telltale injury. The magnesium is sucked right out of there plus dozens of other things are all going wrong, circulation suddenly fails so you're not getting the nutrients to the tendons anymore and not pulling the toxins away from the tendons or any other cells throughout the body. But with the magnesium sucked right out of there that really dooms the tendons in particular to severe damage. So the magnesium.

If you have been harmed, the Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group on Facebook is the main group. If you're looking at them watch your messages and message requests because the admins will be screening you. We don't just let people in. And there are some great websites. The Quinolone Vigilance Foundation is one of them. It has great information.

Tiffany: Thanks for that information. The Facebook group is the main group that you're involved in?

Mark: I was the senior admin of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group until just recently. I resigned and I still run many side groups. There's probably about 100 groups and I run about 60 of them. They focus on a variety of things. We have a group called FQ FB101 that helps the seniors and other people that are just getting on Facebook because they're floxed and desperate for information so we have this group to help them. We have Christian floxies for the Christians. We have groups focusing on various symptoms or treatments. There's an iodine group.

Iodine is one of the things that we recommend eventually. It tends to be a little harsh at first sometimes for people, but basically we try to keep it basically food, water, rest and probiotics and magnesium and give those time and start filtering and some other things. I would recommend don't take a bunch of things all at once. If this has happened to you and you are trying to treat yourself, the shotgun approach of grabbing everything that you think might help is almost always a recipe for disaster.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Mark: People need to track what it is that you're taking. It's like magnesium is what helps most of us but some of us don't process magnesium or some of us process magnesium citrate properly but not magnesium oxide or whatever the case may be. What helps one person will hurt another person. It's such a complex, intricate collection of different types of damage. There's initial core damage from the way it affects our DNA but also, like I said, the circulation fails. You've got the way it just completely nukes every bit of beneficial and otherwise organism in our body. It's nuked and gone and so then whatever opportunistic bugs are around will move in and set up shop. So if you're taking probiotics or ideally you've been getting something like a faecal transplant from controlled and known beneficial source.

Tiffany: Or probiotic enemas.

Mark: Yeah, so on and so forth, all these different things. And fermented foods. There are certain soils and stuff that have combinations of probiotics and minerals that are good. There are ways to get these organisms back into our systems but we lose so many when we're born through the birth canal right up through the day before we get floxed, we've been collecting organisms and maintaining the good ones and booting the bad ones and all of a sudden they're all gone and when you appear in the hospital, the organisms that are moving in and setting up shop are not going to be friendly.

Tiffany: Yeah, the hospital is no place to get well. Those are some good tips and some good resources if people are looking for more information on fluoroquinolone toxicity. Thanks so much for that information.

Mark: You're welcome. Thanks for having me on.

Tiffany: Well thank you.

Doug: Yeah, thanks so much Mark.

Mark: Thanks Doug.

Tiffany: So I want to wish you luck in your future endeavours of spreading the word. Hopefully more people will become aware of how dangerous fluoroquinolones are. They can protect themselves. They can protect their loved ones. I just want to add, always, always, always do your own research. Don't trust everything that your doctor says. If you suspect that you have an infection and your doctor wants to give you an antibiotic, please insist on having a culture done so you can see if you actually do have an infection and what that certain bacteria would be susceptible to before you go ahead and take any kind of antibiotic.

So thank you again, Mr. Mark Girard. Thanks for joining us. You can check out our Health and Wellness Show next week when we'll have a topic that is yet to be announced. You can also check out the other shows, either Behind the Headlines or The Truth Perspective on Sundays on the SOTT Radio Network. Thanks for listening and thank you so much Mark for joining us.

Mark: Thank you. Have a nice day.