Elmiron is a drug used to treat interstitial cystitis that has been around since the late ’90s. Elmiron, or the generic pentosan polysulfate sodium, is a popular medication as it is the only drug on the market for the treatment of pain associated with interstitial cystitis. Unfortunately, after multiple studies beginning in 2018, links have been established between the drug and irreparable vision damage.
What Is Elmiron?
Elmiron is a unique drug. It is the only medication on the market approved for use in treating the pain associated with interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition. IC causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and pelvic pain, which can range from mild to severe. IC is far more common in women. Those will pale skin and red hair are at the highest risk of developing this condition.
There is no cure for interstitial cystitis, and since Elmiron is the only drug used to treat IC pain, it has been widely prescribed in the last twenty-plus years.
What Damage Does Elmiron Cause?
Studies have linked Elmiron to a condition called pigmentary maculopathy. Maculopathy is a deteriorating disease that can lead to vision loss and is the most common cause of blindness. The pigmentary maculopathy caused by Elmiron seems to be unique to users of the drug.
There have been half a dozen studies conducted in the past three years that have shown strong evidence of the link between Elmiron and pigmentary maculopathy.
Has Elmiron Been Recalled?
Elmiron is still in circulation, and there are no indications that a recall is likely even as lawsuits against the drug begin to pile up. Instead of a recall, the makers of Elmiron, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, have updated the packaging to include a warning about the possibility of developing pigmentary maculopathy in relation to the use of the drug.
The general consensus seems to be that the benefits of Elmiron are likely worse than the risk for many patients as long as they receive a fair warning about the chances of developing the condition. Part of the reason the risk is likely worth it for most is that as long as the damage to the eye is caught in the early stages, stopping the medication is likely to prevent the vision troubles from getting worse.
Unless another drug comes on the market that is approved for treating the pain and discomfort caused by interstitial cystitis, people will likely continue to take the medication while closely monitoring their vision.
Litigation against Janssen Pharmaceuticals over eye damage caused by Elmiron is still in the early stages. Over 50 lawsuits have been filed so far. However, those numbers are expected to balloon drastically, with possibly upwards of 1,000 total cases. You can check the status of the Elmiron cases, as well as other current mass tort cases if you are interested in filing a lawsuit of your own.
In order to qualify to file a lawsuit over vision problems related to Elmiron, you need to meet a few simple criteria. You must have taken the drug for at least two years and received a maculopathy diagnosis while on the medication or within a year of discontinuing the use of the drug.
The lawsuits regarding Elmiron are based on improper warnings. There are not allegations that the drug is too dangerous. The problem with the drug is simply that it presented a danger to which users were completely unaware.
It is likely that these lawsuits over Elmiron will end up being grouped into a class action lawsuit. Rather than carefully weighing the individual merit of each case, it will be much quicker and easier to evaluate the case on a wide scale. Tried as a class-action lawsuit, it should be a fairly straightforward case.
Based on the uniqueness of the injury caused by Elmiron and the fact that the new packaging now warns about the possibility of this damage, it should be pretty cut and dry that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was at fault for the damage caused. The biggest question will be whether the drug company knew the potential side effect of Elmiron.
If the company did know about the potential of users experiencing vision problems and chose to cover it up, they will likely face a much harsher penalty. If they had knowledge of the risk and continued to market the drug without any additional warning, then they were intentionally putting users in harm’s way.
About the author:
Wilma Wiliams is a law school graduate and a part-time freelance blogger, focused on various legal topics such as personal injury, and bankruptcy. She’s passionate about educating the public on fighting for their rights, which is why she’s currently collaborating with Ask LLP: Lawyers for Justice, whilst actively sharing a part of her experience as a former lawyer.