It’s a difficult scenario to imagine: You trust a pharmaceutical company to provide treatment for your serious bladder disease, only to later discover this medication may have caused you to lose your eyesight. It seems almost too absurd to be real, and yet, victims of such a scenario are coming forward in what is now known as the Elmiron Vision Loss Lawsuit.
What currently makes this mass tort case different from other drug and pharmaceutical mass tort cases like the Zantac Lawsuit or the Belviq Lawsuit is that as of early 2021, Elmiron still has not been recalled or removed from sales circulation. This means that beyond the plaintiffs who have already been harmed by this drug, there could still be thousands more to come forward in the future. If you or someone you know suspects their vision loss may be a result of their use of Elmiron, it’s important to understand how you may qualify to seek damages.
What is Elmiron and How May it Damage Vision?
Elmiron is a brand name drug made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Its generic name is pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS), and in 1996, the FDA approved doctors to prescribe Elmiron and PPS to treat interstitial cystitis (IC). IC is an incurable bladder disease that is common among older women, and causes sensation, pain, and overactive bladder activity similar to urinary tract infections. But IC is more severe in that it changes the tissue layer around the bladder, thereby decreasing the patient’s quality of life through pain and discomfort that can affect sleep, stress, and intimacy.
Since 1996, Elmiron has been the only drug approved to treat pain associated with IC, which affects millions of Americans each year. Many use it to treat their disease long-term, but it wasn’t until 2018 that studies began to document vision damage associated with this extended use. Between 2018 and 2020, several large-scale medical studies conducted by organizations such as the Emory Eye Center and Kaiser Permanente found that chronic exposure to Elmiron caused irreversible eye damage.
According to these studies, pigmentary maculopathy is the damage specifically unique to Elmiron users. Pigmentary maculopathy relates to the part of the eye called the macula, which is the backside of the retina. The retina senses light and sends signals to the brain that allow humans to see. When any part of the retina is damaged—including the macula—it can affect vision. Elmiron has been allegedly linked to causing pigmentary maculopathy, or pigmented deposits in the macula that cause vision damage.
Although the direct cause of this link between Elmiron and pigmentary maculopathy is still unknown, these medical studies speak for themselves: Patients with higher doses and longer use of Elmiron experienced higher toxicity levels in their eyes, resulting in irreversible damage to their vision.
The Current State of the Elmiron Lawsuit
It is estimated that tens of thousands of people have potentially taken Elmiron since it was approved by the FDA. That likely means there are thousands of victims who have suffered some degree of vision loss due to their long-term use of the drug. Even though the first studies linking Elmiron to vision damage were released in 2018, Janssen has yet to issue any type of recall. They also waited until mid-2020 to publish a new label on the drug’s packaging warning of potential maculopathy, and have still not issued a statement of safety about it. By many accounts, this reads as blatant ignorance of a seriously harmful product side effect.
The current Elmiron Vision Loss Lawsuit consists of over 50 plaintiffs accusing the product of causing their vision damage. It also poses that Janssen failed to properly warn both prescribing doctors and the public that Elmiron could cause such vision damage. The lawsuit also claims that Janssen even went so far as to actively hide these dangerous side effects from the public, suggesting the drug makers knew about them since before 2018.
Litigation is still in its beginning stages, but cases have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) out of the District of New Jersey. MDLs are a way to streamline litigation by allowing a single judge to make all pretrial rulings, then sending only a handful of separate cases to trial. The outcome of these trials will serve as a starting point for negotiations for all lawsuits filed, and each MDL plaintiff will receive their own settlement dependent upon their unique injuries and circumstances.
For now, these lawsuits are in stages of discovery, or evidence-gathering by both the prosecution and defense teams. That means it’s not too late for you to file your own lawsuit if you believe your use of Elmiron has caused you to suffer vision damage.
Qualifying to File an Elmiron Vision Loss Lawsuit
If you took Elmiron for at least two years and have suffered vision problems, you could qualify to file a lawsuit in this case. This is especially true if you were still using Elmiron from 2018 to present. Your vision problems must also have started while still taking Elmiron or within one year of stopping treatment, as some studies have shown that vision damage may continue even after the patient stops taking the drug.
If you are unsure whether your vision damage may qualify you to file a case, reported injuries in the ongoing lawsuit currently include:
- Blurred vision
- Degenerative maculopathy
- Halo vision
- Macular retinopathy
- Macular or pattern dystrophy
- Pigmentary maculopathy
- Reduced night vision
- Retinal pigment epithelium atrophy
- Unilateral or bilateral blindness
- Vision impairment
- Vision loss
If you are unsure whether you may be suffering vision damage due to Elmiron, common symptoms to look for include:
- Loss in various areas of your field of vision
- Difficulty adjusting to dim lighting or darkness
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty seeing nearby objects
- Blurred or dimming vision
If you are currently taking Elmiron, you should speak with your doctor about continuing to use it and the risks doing so may pose. Even though this lawsuit is under way, Elmiron has yet to be pulled from pharmacy distribution and medical studies about its side effects are ongoing.
The Whisler Law Firm is practiced in representing plaintiffs in mass tort cases, and we want to help you hold Janssen responsible for their actions. It’s impossible to put a price on the loss of something as precious as the ability to see, but if you qualify to file a lawsuit in this case, we may be able to help you seek compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Call us at 833-529-5677 or contact us online so we can provide you with a free consultation of your case.