Millions of Americans take the drug called pentosan polysulfate sodium, popularly known as Elmiron. The prescription drug is meant for treatment of interstitial cystitis (IC).
In many cases, the vast majority of Elmiron users are often advised to take increasing doses of the drug for more effective relief of their symptoms. In 2018, however, the first study that discovered the potential adverse effects of chronic exposure to Elmiron was first published.
Since this discovery, hundreds of users of the bladder medication have filed Elmiron lawsuits after they experienced vision loss and other eye problems following long-term use of the drug.
But now that these eye injury cases are being consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), settlement discussions will probably take place in a few years.
Read on to learn more about the possible Elmiron lawsuit settlement amounts.
What is the Elmiron lawsuit all about?
Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition that causes severe pain in the bladder and pelvic area. An estimated 12 million people in the United States currently suffer from IC.
Elmiron helps treat bladder pain and discomfort related to IC by preventing irritation in the damaged bladder wall through a protective coating. The medication got an FDA nod back in 1996. Since then, it has become a mainstay treatment for IC.
Therefore, it comes with no surprise that hundreds of thousands of people may have been exposed to the bladder drug already. And as a result, Elmiron manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has and continues to gain lucrative profits from this drug.
Meanwhile, Elmiron users who have subsequently developed eye problems suffered needlessly for several years. Plaintiffs who have filed an Elmiron vision loss lawsuit raised many allegations, including:
- The makers of Elmiron didn’t warn patients or doctors about its potential dangers
- Manufacturers also allegedly withheld critical information from clinical trials about these risks
- The companies in question also failed to promptly address these issues by initiating an Elmiron recall and updating the safety warning of the medication.
All these, despite a growing body of research that indicated a higher risk of vision loss, permanent blindness, and other eye injuries resulting from long-term Elmiron use.
Did Elmiron manufacturers know about these dangers all along?
The original label of Elmiron indicated that the cystitis drug is associated with only a few minor side effects. In particular, those listed in the manufacturer’s website are:
- Abnormal liver function tests
- Bloody stool
- Hair loss
It’s worth noting that vision problems that can result from chronic exposure to Elmiron are not among them. The manufacturer only updated the drug’s label in 2020. Specifically, Janssen added a warning that a form of retinal damage known as pigmentary maculopathy has been associated with Elmiron use.
However, since its approval in 1996, it came without warnings. Moreover, even with the additional warning for retinal pigmentary changes, the drugmaker still hasn’t acknowledged allegations of eye damage related to Elmiron.
It also hasn’t indicated that it will issue a recall anytime soon despite increasing cases of eye problems.
Current Status Of The Litigation
In December 2020, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered Elmiron lawsuits filed across the country to be consolidated into MDL out of the district of New Jersey.
An MDL is a large group of lawsuits filed by plaintiffs with similar issues against one or more defendant/s. It is a legal process that’s meant to speed up the litigation process and make it less costly for plaintiffs. In the case of Elmiron lawsuits, an MDL is an efficient way to handle the cases, where all claimants have the same injury and are holding the same defendant liable: Janssen.
In an MDL, cases are combined and transferred to one federal court. Only one judge also oversees the pretrial proceedings. Attorneys on both sides get to decide on a few, select cases to be included in the bellwether trials.
The federal judge presiding over the Elmiron MDL class action is the Honorable Brian R. Martinotti. As of November 2021, there are around 600 Elmiron lawsuits pending in the MDL. However, this number is expected to grow into thousands as more plaintiffs pursue legal action each day.
The first round of bellwether trials are set to begin in January 2023. Given the mounting evidence linking Elmiron to pigmentary maculopathy, it may be likely that a global settlement of these lawsuits could happen.
What eye problem can result from prolonged Elmiron use?
Maculopathy, also called macular degeneration, is any condition or disease affecting the macula, which is the central part of the retina found at the back of our eyes.
The macula is responsible for our central vision, particularly processing finer and clearer details of what we see. There are different types of maculopathy. One of these is pigmentary maculopathy. Unfortunately, it is a unique type of the eye problem that’s only seen in patients who had chronic exposure to the bladder drug Elmiron, also referred to as pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS).
This particular type of maculopathy is also called PPS maculopathy. This eye disorder is usually characterized by the following symptoms:
- Eye pain
- Difficulty reading
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Trouble seeing things up close
- Difficulty adjusting to dim light
The bad news, however, is that doctors often times misdiagnose the eye condition as pattern dystrophy or age-related macular degeneration. Elmiron’s active ingredient, pentosan polysulfate sodium, is thought to be culpable for the damages in the macula of patients.
The exact reason behind this, however, is still unclear.
How much money can I get in an Elmiron vision loss settlement?
Elmiron cases have been consolidated into an MDL. In an MDL, all lawsuits remain separate. This means that each plaintiff gets a different settlement depending on the unique facts of his/her specific case.
There are also contributing factors that a jury may consider at trial. These factors may influence the value of your Elmiron case during negotiations:
- The extent of eye injuries from Elmiron
- The effect that Elmiron maculopathy on the physical and mental health of the patient
- The pain and suffering experienced by the patient in the past and will also likely experience in the future as a result of Elmiron vision loss
- The amount of past and future medical bills and expenses due to retinal damage from Elmiron
- Loss of wages and future earning capacity due to an inability to work resulting from vision damage
It’s worth noting that Elmiron litigation is still in its early stage. In general, however, the more severe the eye injuries, the higher the possible Elmiron settlement payout. In product liability cases like Elmiron lawsuits, there are also statute of limitations that vary from state to state.
This sets the time limit for filing a claim. It’s important to talk to an Elmiron lawyer to know how much time you still have to sue the company or manufacturer who harmed you.
How long will my Elmiron case take to settle?
As of now, there are no global settlements being offered. Therefore, it will be difficult to predict the amount of time it will take before each individual Elmiron lawsuit resolves.
The first trial in the Elmiron class action MDL, however, is set to begin in January 2023. But like every other trial during this pandemic, this could get delayed as well. It’s also worth noting that global settlements in large defective drug cases take more time.
The upcoming bellwether trial, however, may set the stage on possible Elmiron settlement discussions. But while the verdict on these bellwether trials will not have a binding effect on other cases, it will provide information on how juries will likely respond to certain evidence that will be repeatedly presented throughout the claims.
While it may take a few years from now to settle Elmiron eye damage claims, this shouldn’t stop an individual from exploring their legal options. It’s important for anyone who experienced Elmiron maculopathy and other vision problems to contact a lawyer and protect his or her legal interests.
Here’s What You Can Do
If you have a history of prolonged Elmiron use and subsequently developed pigmentary maculopathy and other eye problems that may be related to the drug, you may be eligible for financial compensation.
Above all else, however, we care for your safety first. It’s important to speak with your doctor immediately if you start to experience symptoms that may be indicative of PPS maculopathy. Abruptly stopping your Elmiron medication is also not advised as your IC-related symptoms may slowly reappear.
It’s important to consult your doctor before you make any decisions about your health. However, a dilemma may occur for some people because in some cases, it has been found that discontinuing Elmiron may not stop an eye disease from progressing.
In a 2019 case study, an Elmiron patient who stopped taking the medication continued to suffer from macular degeneration for six years.
Pursuing legal action against a pharmaceutical company may be daunting. This is true especially if you’re also dealing with injuries and complications due to a defective drug. But fret not, for that’s where we come in — we can assist in finding a reliable Elmiron lawyer for you.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today for legal help. We could get you in touch with an attorney who can help determine the settlement amount that you or your loved one may be eligible to receive.