Two law firms have teamed up to file the first of what they claim will be many lawsuits over claims that Elmiron can cause vision impairment, blindness and permanent retinal damage.
Their client says Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and its parent company Johnson & Johnson failed to investigate and warn consumers about the eyesight-related risks of their medication Elmiron. The client claims she took Elmiron from 1994 to 2019 and now has blurry and distorted vision and maculopathy.
Elmiron is an interstitial cystitis medication. Interstitial cystitis is a bladder condition which leads to chronic pain.
A new progressive eye disease was discovered in six patients at the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, GA from 2015 to 2018. The eye center looked through the histories of the patients and discovered that all six had taken Elmiron. Their findings were later published in the Journal of Ophthalmology.
This disease can reportedly cause the following symptoms:
• Problems with eyesight in dim lighting
• Problems with reading
• Blurred vision, especially in the center of vision
• Dark spots in the center of vision
• Less vivid colors
• Straight lines can be perceived to be curved
Elmiron’s link to this new disease has since been corroborated by Harvard Medical School, the IC Network and Kaiser Oakland doctors. Alarmingly, Harvard Medical School discovered that the disease could continue to progress in patients for a long time after the patients stop taking the drug. A Harvard patient’s disease was still getting worse six years after ceasing use of the medication.
Elmiron’s label contains no information about a risk of damaged eyesight.
The client’s lawyers say thousands of people could be affected by this problem, but finding those people will prove an obstacle because Elmiron isn’t a well-known medication.
“We need people to learn about the dangers of taking this drug,” a lawyer said. “It’s been on the market for decades, and there are so many women who have already been injured by it. We just want them to learn the medical facts and their legal rights.”
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of breach of warranty, strict liability and negligence, seeking attorney fees, punitive damages, statutory damages and compensation.
The defendants said they plan on fighting the lawsuit.
“Interstitial cystitis is a painful and debilitating disease. Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) is the only FDA-approved oral prescription medicine that has been helping patients suffering from this condition for more than two decades,” said a Janssen Pharmaceutical spokesperson.