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Can Elmiron Cause Vision Impairment?

Elmiron is the brand name for pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS), a drug used to treat chronic interstitial cystitis (IC). The drug is manufactured and distributed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.

According to statistics, over 3 million women and over 1 million men live with IC in America. Currently, the only FDA-approved medication for the condition is Elmiron. This means that a large percentage of patients suffering from IC, also known as painful bladder syndrome, have been exposed to the drug to a certain extent.

After being on the market for decades, recent studies have shown a connection between Elmiron and vision problems. This has resulted in a large number of lawsuits from affected individuals being filed against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. If you have been using Elmiron for any period, experts recommend that you consult a qualified  eye specialist to check your eyes for signs of vision deterioration. You may also want to talk to an Elmiron attorney to discuss your options in filing a claim.

Elmiron and Vision Impairment Background

The first evidence showing a connection between Elmiron and vision impairment was made public in 2018. By this time, Elmiron had been on the market for approximately 20 years. Researchers at Emory Eye Center observed that patients who had used Elmiron for an extended period developed a rare type of pigmentary maculopathy. Further research proved that this form of pigmentary maculopathy was not present in patients managing their IC symptoms using other drugs.

These findings by researchers at Emory Eye Center prompted other ophthalmologists to start research on the possible links between Elmiron and eye problems. According to a study by Kaiser Permanente published in 2019, 25% of the patients who had taken the drug had developed signs of retinal damage, with patients taking a higher dosage of Elmiron exhibiting more severe damage.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology conducted further studies on the effects of the drug and found 66% of the tested individuals to exhibit reading problems. This study also showed that Elmiron caused a deterioration of the retina, a condition not present in other IC patients who didn’t take Elmiron.

All the studies point to one conclusion; there may be a connection between Elmiron and vision problems such as pigmentary maculopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal maculopathy, all of which have the potential of causing partial or total blindness.

Symptoms of Elmiron Related Maculopathy

Some of the most common symptoms of Elmiron-related maculopathy are blurry vision, blindness, difficulties reading small text and poor vision in dimly lit areas. According to doctors, terminating the drug immediately after a patient notices vision problems can help stop further vision deterioration. Other possible symptoms exhibited by Elmiron related maculopathy identifiable on examination by an eye specialist include:

  • Parafoveal Pigment Deposits – characterized by abnormal blood vessels on the macula
  • Vitelliform deposits – round yellowish pigments underneath the macula
  • Dark spots around the retina
  • Wasting away of pigment epithelium of the retina

What if I Am Already Exposed?

If you have been using Elmiron for an extended period, you may be at risk of developing vision problems. Doctors recommend that IC patients who have used Elmiron over extended periods and notice a deterioration of their vision consult their doctors for other ways to manage their condition. It is also important for patients who have not noticed symptoms of vision problems to have their eyes checked annually.

If you have suffered vision problems from taking Elmiron, you may be eligible for compensation. For details on how to go about getting compensation for your damages, you may want to speak to a skilled Elmiron lawyer.

Elmiron Lawsuits

Drug manufacturers are obligated to ensure that the products they put on the market are safe or at least warn you of the dangers of using them. They are required under the law to properly indicate all the possible side effects associated with the use of their drugs.

Based on these guidelines, the Elmiron lawsuits say that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was aware of potential vision impairment resulting from the drug but failed to inform the public and doctors. Evidence shows that Janssen Pharmaceuticals reported over 100 events of eye-related injuries, including maculopathy, to the FDA between 1997 and 2019. Despite this evidence, the company failed to update its drug warning label until July 2020 for its Canadian market and June 2020 for the American market.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ failure to disclose potential vision problems associated with taking the drug shows negligence on their part. The company may be responsible for the damage caused to IC patients taking Elmiron.

Elmiron Alternatives

Following the revelations of potential vision loss because of the extended use of Elmiron, millions of Americans using the drug are seeking alternatives. Currently, there are no generic alternatives for Elmiron for IC patients. However, according to Mayo Clinic, some alternatives such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, and tricyclic antidepressants can help ease the pain.

Additionally, patients can try therapies such as nerve stimulation, bladder distention, and bladder instillation as potential alternatives. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended.

Visual impairment can be a big blow to an individual, and no amount of compensation can help a person fully recover from the loss. However, considering the amount of money you could spend due to lifestyle change and potential loss of livelihood, getting fair compensation for your Elmiron-related visual impairment can help alleviate some of the pain. If you have suffered Elmiron-related eye problems, consider talking with a skilled Elmiron lawyer to look at your eligibility for an Elmiron lawsuit.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are there safer generic versions of Elmiron?

There is no known generic version of Elmiron, at least not in the U.S.A.

Are Elmiron-related vision problems reversible?

Unfortunately, Elmiron-related eye problems are not reversible. However, early diagnosis and terminating the drug use can help avoid deterioration.

Who is eligible for an Elmiron lawsuit?

Any person suffering from vision problems related to taking Elmiron or health issues due to any other drugs can discuss filing an Elmiron lawsuit with their lawyer.


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