Studies linking Elmiron to several visual side effects had its users looking for other options. Elmiron is a medication prescribed for the treatment of bladder pain and discomfort caused by interstitial cystitis (IC).
Despite being a controversial drug, Elmiron is widely prescribed in the United States. The bladder medication has long been caught up in issues of potentially causing vision problems in some patients.
In fact, several injured patients have already filed an Elmiron lawsuit after suffering from a plethora of eye issues. Some of the injuries cited in the lawsuits include pigmentary maculopathy and even vision loss in some patients, among others.
In light of these known side effects, it’s no wonder IC patients like you may start looking for some Elmiron alternatives.
Read on to find out more about other treatment options for you in case you’re experiencing unusual eye symptoms with Elmiron.
Is there a generic version of Elmiron?
Unfortunately, there is currently no generic version of Elmiron available in the United States. To date, it is the only FDA-approved medication for treating interstitial cystitis.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful bladder syndrome that causes bladder pressure, pelvic pain, and problems with urinating. Elmiron, also known as pentosan polysulfate sodium, is thought to work by improving a damaged bladder lining, making it less leaky. As a result, the bladder gets protected from irritating substances in the urine.
If you’ve been looking for some alternatives to Elmiron, you may have come across online pharmacies that claim to have generic versions of the drug. However, as mentioned, a generic alternative to Elmiron is yet to be available in the US.
Therefore, it is best to steer clear of these virtual drug stores, as they may be selling a medication that’s not cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency also warns that these illegitimate medications may cause adverse effects in patients.
Alternatives to Elmiron
Elmiron is the only FDA-approved medication to treat the bladder pain and discomfort associated with IC.
It is important to work directly with your doctor in looking for alternative treatments if you’re trying to avoid the potential eye damage caused by Elmiron.
Listed below are some Elmiron alternatives for the potential treatment of interstitial cystitis:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are medicines that are widely used to relieve pain and lessen inflammation. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help with symptoms associated with IC.
- Antihistamines. Although widely used to help with allergies, antihistamines can also make IC symptoms more manageable. Most IC patients find relief from Claritin (loratadine).
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Certain tricyclic antidepressants like Tofranil (imipramine) or amitriptyline can help soothe the bladder, therefore reducing pain.
- Nerve stimulation. Procedures like transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) or sacral nerve stimulation can help with bladder pain. Nerve stimulation is thought to block pain receptors and may also relax bladder muscles.
- Bladder distention. In this procedure, a physician stretches the bladder with the use of water. It’s a potential treatment for patients with urinary frequency and bladder pain.
- Bladder instillation. This therapy involves the direct introduction of medication by a catheter into the bladder. It’s a common option for patients who have failed oral therapies.
In some cases, your doctor may also recommend standard physical therapy to help with muscle tension caused by your bladder pain syndrome. These therapies may include diet and exercise, bladder training, and bowel training.
It is important to note, however, that before making any decisions about your treatment, you should talk to your doctor first. Weaning yourself off Elmiron without professional advice may mean that its positive effects could wear off and the symptoms of your pelvic pain condition may reappear.
Elmiron and Pigmentary Maculopathy
Pigmentary maculopathy is a rare type of maculopathy that’s only seen in patients who have used Elmiron for several years. Maculopathy is a progressive disease of the macula, the central area of the retina. This eye condition could potentially lead to blindness, and there are no cures.
Mounting evidence suggests that Elmiron can cause pigmentary maculopathy, potentially leading to permanent vision damage. For instance, in 2018, Dr. Nieraj Jain and colleagues published the first report of retinal pigmentary changes linked to long-term Elmiron use.
The patients in the study received a standard dosage of Elmiron for a duration of up to 15 years. Eye examinations found that the patients had eye injuries that resembled no other retinal disease.
Since the report was published, several subsequent studies regarding eye problems and vision loss linked to Elmiron continued to surface.
One of the most recent research from 2020 suggests that Elmiron patients may continue to suffer from pigmentary maculopathy long after stopping the medication.
Researchers found that Elmiron users who took the drug for an extended period of time had the worst eye damage. Studies have also reported numerous symptoms of vision loss related to the bladder drug.
Some of the visual symptoms of Elmiron maculopathy include:
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty adjusting to dim lighting
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Difficult time seeing things up close
- Eye strain from watching TV
Unfortunately, doctors often misdiagnose this unique type of maculopathy for other eye conditions such as pattern dystrophy and age-related macular degeneration.
Pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS), the active ingredient in Elmiron, is believed to be responsible for the retinal damage in patients who use the drug. However, more evidence is still needed to support this claim.
What You Can Do
Some studies suggest that the eye damage potentially caused by Elmiron can continue to progress even after years of quitting the medicine. If you are concerned about any side effects or symptoms while taking Elmiron, consult with your doctor.
Another option provided for patients who believe they were injured by Elmiron is to file an Elmiron lawsuit. By holding the drug’s manufacturer accountable, you’re not only fighting for your rights.
You’re also potentially preventing other patients from being harmed with the long-term use of the drug. If you or a loved one developed any eye problems or symptoms after taking Elmiron for interstitial cystitis, you can contact us today and we will assist you with the necessary steps in pursuing legal action.