Elmiron is a prescription drug manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). Doctors use it to treat chronic pain and discomfort from interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic bladder condition. For decades, the drug was considered a safe treatment option for IC. However, researchers have discovered that the active ingredient in Elmiron—the chemical compound pentosan polysulfate sodium—is toxic to the retina. After experiencing retinal eye damage, many users have now filed Elmiron lawsuits against the manufacturer.
Clinical trials have linked the drug to the development of pigmentary maculopathy, also known as macular degeneration. This condition causes serious vision damage and can result in permanent blindness over time. Janssen didn’t warn consumers about these potential problems until 2020, Since Janssen failed to warn users about the dangerous long-term consequences this drug can have on their vision, it may be held legally responsible for the losses suffered by Elmiron users.
What is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis (IC) affects an estimated 3 to 8 million women and 1 to 4 million men in the United States. This condition can bring lifelong challenges to sufferers, and while many treatment options exist, there is no cure.
Elmiron is currently the only Food and Drug Administration-approved medication used to treat IC symptoms. The FDA has documented mild side effects in users such as stomach upset, hair loss, and headache. However, there has never been an FDA-mandated Elmiron recall related to potential eye injuries.
In 2020, Janssen Pharmaceuticals added a warning to their product, alerting consumers of potential medical risks. However, hundreds of thousands of patients have taken Elmiron since 1996 when it was introduced to the market and approved by the FDA without any warning that the drug could affect their eyes and even cause blindness.
Federal Elmiron Lawsuits are Consolidated into an MDL
As of September 2022, Janssen faced more than 1,700 Elmiron cases filed in various federal courts. These Elmiron lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) overseen by Judge Brian Martinotti in the United States District Court of New Jersey. By June 2023, the MDL contained 1,923 cases and the main defendant, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, was quietly trying to settle large groups of cases confidentially.
New Elmiron cases are still being filed and will probably be included in the settlement discussions currently pending. Our legal team is currently representing individuals who developed serious eye problems, including maculopathy, after taking Elmiron. If you experienced vision loss or eye damage after taking Elmiron, our lawyers are here to speak with you and answer all your questions. Contact our experienced mass tort attorneys for a free consultation with no obligation.
What You Need to Know About Elmiron
Elmiron was developed by Teva Pharmaceuticals and approved by the FDA in 1996 to treat interstitial cystitis of the bladder. It is not known exactly how Elmiron works in the body to relieve the symptoms of IC. However, researchers theorize that it works by forming a protective lining in the bladder wall that prevents potassium leakage into the bladder muscle, alleviating discomfort.
Although initially classified as an orphan drug—meaning that its use was specific to the treatment of one fairly uncommon disease, IC—doctors began to prescribe Elmiron to treat other conditions, such as osteoarthritis and certain metabolic disorders. Currently, no generic version of Elmiron exists
Is Elmiron Safe to Take?
Despite its long history in IC treatment, much remains unknown about the drug's toxicology profile. Studies on mice have suggested that Elmiron may hurt the immune system and act as an immunodepressant. Clinical trials have also observed internal bleeding in cancer patients.
Arguably, Elmiron's most concerning side effect is its toxicity to the eye's retina, which can lead to long-term, irreversible vision damage and even near-total loss of sight.
What Eye Problems Can Elmiron Cause?
Users of this pharmaceutical have reported blurry vision, changes in eyesight, and difficulty reading. The study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology mentioned above found that one-quarter of patients with significant exposure to Elmiron showed signs of eye damage. Some have also experienced degenerative changes to the central part of the retina, a condition known as maculopathy or macular degeneration.
Does Elmiron Cause Blindness?
Macular degeneration attacks the macula, or the back of the retina, the part of the eye that helps our eyes process detail and color. Sufferers of maculopathy may have difficulty recognizing words, faces, and even numbers on a clock face. They may also have difficulty adjusting to the dark or experience prolonged changes in light adjustment.
Although the disease doesn't usually cause complete blindness, it can progress with such severity that it renders a person legally blind. There is currently no cure for this condition. However, treatments may slow down the progression of the condition.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss among adults in the United States over 60. The risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) increases sharply after 75. Many older adults diagnosed with macular degeneration may have attributed its onset to advancing years when in reality, taking Elmiron for years to treat an underlying condition may have caused the problem.
If you or someone you love experienced vision loss or eye damage after taking Elmiron, seek medical attention right away. Then, talk to an experienced Elmiron lawsuit lawyer to learn about your legal rights. A qualified dangerous drug attorney can help you determine your right to compensation, gather medical records, and build a claim to help you recover the financial losses related to your Elmiron use.
How Long Can It Take for Elmiron to Cause Blindness?
Reports indicate that symptoms may take over 14 years to appear but could begin as soon as three years after starting Elmiron treatments. Due to the permanence of eye damage and vision changes, consult your doctor as soon as possible to evaluate any changes in your sight. You should also seek out an experienced Elmiron lawsuit attorney who can help you compile evidence and medical records to support your claim.
Am I at Risk of Blindness if I Take Elmiron?
It is impossible to speak generally about the risks that each individual who took or is currently taking Elmiron may face. The FDA has not yet issued a recall of the drug and recommends that anyone taking or about to begin taking Elmiron should consult an ophthalmologist for a retinal exam. You should continue to undergo regular retinal screenings while taking Elmiron to monitor for any adverse changes so you can act quickly to protect your health and your legal rights.
Elmiron Manufacturers Face Liability
Elmiron's harmful side effects have devastated many users. Since doctors prescribe the drug to patients who already suffer from a chronic condition, the potential risks of serious vision problems and blindness are no small matter.
Plaintiffs in the Elmiron multidistrict litigation argue that Janssen Pharmaceuticals should have known about the dangerous side effects of their product. Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to sell safe drugs that will not harm the public. Plaintiffs in this MDL will attempt to prove that Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson acted irresponsibly, failed to warn about the dangers, or that they concealed information that would have alerted others to the potential risks of taking Elmiron. If successful, they can hold these corporations accountable for legal damages.
Our mass tort lawyers are prepared to challenge these large corporate defendants and we are willing to fight for our clients' rights with every tool at our disposal. An experienced product liability attorney can determine who you should file a claim against and build a strategy to support your case and maximize your settlement.
Is There an Elmiron Class Action Lawsuit?
No. Instead of a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs filed multidistrict litigation (MDL) against the makers of Elmiron. While an MDL and a class action lawsuit serve similar purposes, they are not quite the same. Both consolidate many individual lawsuits, making resolution easier and conserving court resources.
However, a class action lawsuit typically involves plaintiffs that have suffered similar injuries by the same defendant. When a settlement or verdict is reached, the plaintiffs will split the total amount of compensation based upon their involvement in the class action.
Similarly, an MDL consolidates and expedites several lawsuits through one district court to ensure consistent evidence discovery and motion rulings. However, if compensation is ordered from the defendant, each plaintiff receives a different amount according to their unique circumstances and degree of injury. Multidistrict litigation also involves bellwether trials, which act as test cases to determine the probable outcome of further litigation and encourage settlement of all remaining claims without trial.
What is Your Elmiron Lawsuit Settlement Worth?
The compensation for Elmiron lawsuits will vary depending on each case and the severity of the plaintiff’s losses. We anticipate that compensation for these claims will involve a structured settlement payout that accounts for these factors. Our lawyers estimate that the average settlement for an Elmiron eye injury claim will exceed $150,000. More severe injuries, such as complete loss of sight or legal blindness, may result in higher payouts exceeding $250,000.
Individuals seeking compensation may request damages for:
- Medical expenses, including current and future medications, doctors visits, hospitalization, surgery, and other healthcare needs
- Lost income or lost earning potential, including time spent hospitalized, inability to work, or loss of the ability to return to previous employment
- Pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment, mental anguish, and reduced quality of life
Depending on the nature of the case, some courts award punitive damages to penalize a dangerous or defective product's manufacturer. Punitive damages are also intended to discourage irresponsible manufacturers from continuing actions which harm others in the future and to deter others from doing the same.
Our legal team is closely watching the progress of the MDL against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. As of July 2023, the bellwether trials are on hold because Janssen is trying to settle large groups of Elmiron lawsuits to avoid a potentially damaging verdict against the company. Once the first cases are resolved, we expect settlement offers on all pending Elmiron lawsuits to close out the MDL completely.
Are You Eligible to File an Elmiron Lawsuit?
The circumstances of your case will dictate the exact legal action you can take to recover compensation for the eye damage you suffered after taking Elmiron. In general, plaintiffs need to meet certain qualifications to bring a claim for Elmiron-related injury.
Specifically, you may file an Elmiron lawsuit if:
- You used Elmiron for a minimum of two years
- You began to experience vision problems after January 1, 2010
- You sought treatment or consultation from a healthcare professional for vision loss
- Doctors diagnosed you with macular degeneration, pigmentary maculopathy, or retinal maculopathy after taking Elmiron
- Doctors diagnosed your vision problems within a year after stopping Elmiron
If you think you or someone you love may qualify for compensation from an Elmiron lawsuit, contact our team of experienced drug injury attorneys today for more information. We offer a no obligation, free consultation and we’ll meet with you virtually, at your home, or another location if you cannot come to us. Additionally, we represent our clients on a contingency basis, meaning we don't get paid unless you receive compensation.
How Mass Tort Product Liability Attorneys Can Help You
We understand that product liability victims often find themselves sick, overwhelmed, and mentally distressed by their injuries. We aim to make the experience of taking legal action as seamless and smooth as possible. Our injury lawyers are prepared to see your case through from start to finish by providing you with advice, answers, and the legal experience necessary to successfully present your claim for compensation.
Although each case may look different in terms of the required steps to achieve our mutual goals for resolution, we are always equipped to:
- Listen to your story and gather details about your unique situation
- Investigate the circumstances and collect information
- Work with medical experts to determine the full extent of your injury
- Negotiate with defense attorneys to work toward a settlement when applicable
- Advocate for you in court if necessary
Our legal team will tenaciously fight for your right to seek compensation for your injuries. Our goal is to bring your case to a fair resolution that offers you maximum compensation for your losses and suffering.
Contact Our Elmiron Lawsuit Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one experienced vision loss or eye damage after taking Elmiron to treat interstitial cystitis, we urge you to reach out to a medical professional who can evaluate your healthcare needs. Then, speak to our qualified dangerous drug attorneys to better understand your legal options.
If you are a victim of eye damage from the prescription drug Elmiron, the time to act is now. Contact our legal team at 866-535-9515 or fill out our simple online contact form now for a free consultation and case review, and find out what our legal professionals can do for you.