Image: Elmiron medication uses and side effects

Elmiron is a medication used to treat pain or discomfort associated with a bladder disorder known as interstitial cystitis (IC).

Elmiron is thought to work by attaching to the mucus lining in order to prevent irritating substances in urine from reaching the bladder wall.

Most Elmiron side effects are mild: hair loss, headache, nausea, and dizziness are some examples. However, recent research has linked the baldder medication to a number of serious side effects, including eye damage and pigmentary changes.

In fact:

A growing number of plaintiffs have been filing Elmiron lawsuits due to serious side effects they have suffered which ultimately resulted in eye damage. Read on to learn more about how Elmiron works and what particular side effects are related ot its use.

What is Elmiron Used For?

Elmiron is a popular prescription medication used to treat the pain and discomfort of interstitial cystitis. However, it does not work like other pain medications such as acetaminophen or aspirin. Therefore, it must be taken continuously for relief as prescribed by a doctor. A huge percentage of Elmiron users are women.

Moreover, considering how it is the only FDA-approved drug for IC since 1996, it’s no wonder an estimated hundreds of thousands of people within the United States have been exposed to the bladder medication — and for longer periods of time, too.

This chronic exposure has actually been considered a significant factor for developing some of the serious side effects cited by plaintiffs who have filed an Elmiron lawsuit.

Common Side Effects

Some of the most common Elmiron side effects include:

  • bruising
  • blood in your stools
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • rash
  • abnormal liver function tests

Aside from the symptoms listed above, other side effects may also occur. Seek medical attention if these symptoms persist or if you have developed allergic reactions including swelling of the face or lips and difficulty breathing.

Associated Risks and Injuries

A number of Elmiron patients have reported pigmentary changes in the retina, also known as pigmentary maculopathy. Long-term Elmiron use has also been linked to serious eye injuries including macular degeneration and even vision loss.

In fact:

In 2018, researchers from the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, GA, found that patients who have been treated for interstitial cystitis with the use of Elmiron were at an increased risk of developing retinal maculopathy. These people reportedly experienced difficulty reading and adjusting to dim lighting.

According to Dr. Nieraj Jain, an Ophthalmology Specialist from the Emory Eye Center, pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS) can be toxic to the retina, as Elmiron users for several years who were observed in the study were subsequently diagnosed with toxicity of the retina related to their chronic exposure to the drug.

Other vision problems linked to long-term use of Elmiron include:

  • retinal pigmentary change or pigmentary maculopathy
  • problems adjustin in low-light situations
  • blurred vision
  • macular degeneration
  • eye pain
  • permanent eye damage
  • permanent vision loss or blindness

The majority of Elmiron visual symptoms, however, may get misdiagnosed with pattern dystrophy or age related macular degeneration.

But it is important to keep in mind that before you make any decisions that will impact your health, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a medical professional first and foremost.

After all, if you immediately stop taking this bladder medication, its positive effects will wear off and the symptoms of pain for which you originally took Elmiron may possibly re-emerge.

IC Symptoms

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and at times pelvic pain.

Up to this day, experts are still uncertain about what exactly causes IC, but it is believed that a combination of different factors may contribute to the condition.

Signs and symptoms of IC may include:

  • pain or pressure in the pelvic area or lower abdomen
  • urinating more often than normal
  • bladder pain that gets worse until it is emptied
  • pain between the vagina in women
  • pain in the scrotum or testicles in men
  • urgent need to pee several times a day
  • pain during or after sexual intercourse

The severity of symptoms may be different for each person, and may vary over time. There is also currently no cure for IC, only therapies and medications which may offer relief for its symptoms.

That said:

Elmiron doesn’t actually cure interstitial cystitis. It only provides relief for its symptoms. IC is a common condition. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it affects between 3 to 8 million women and and 1 to 4 million men in the United States.


Elmiron is a weak anticoagulant or blood thinner. Anticoagulants are medications that prevent, treat, or lessens the risk of blood clots. Cases of bleeding from the gums or nose and bruising have been reported.

Before taking pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS), you should inform your health care provider if you are allergic to it, as it may contain inactive ingredients which can trigger certain allergic reactions. You should also tell your doctor if you have any other allergies.

Moreover, you should also inform your doctor about your medical history, especially if you have bleeding disorders, eye disorders, stomach disorders, or blood vessel disorders, among others.

And before having surgery, patients should share with their doctors the kinds of medications they use, such as prescription drugs, non-prescription medications, or herbal products.

Pregnant women should also take precautions in taking Elmiron. This medication should only be used when clearly needed. Potential risks and benefits should be discussed with a doctor.

Lastly, it is unknown whether Elmiron can pass through breast milk. Therefore, nursing women should exercise caution and consult their doctor before breastfeeding.

What Company Makes Elmiron?

Elmiron is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Elmiron for sale in 1996.

Currently, it is the only medication approved to treat interstitial cystitis, a painful bladder syndrome. As such, Elmiron has been a mainstay of IC treatment for several years now.

Plaintiffs who have filed an Elmiron lawsuit also accuse Elmiron’s manufacturer of failing to adequately warn the public of the potential dangers related to the use of the bladder pain medication, including retinal damage, vision damage, and a handful of other eye problems.

Did You Take Elmiron?

Patients should take Elmiron as directed or as indicated in the prescription label.

Your doctor will have to check your progress after three months of taking the drug in order to check for its effectivity and determine how long to treat you with it. You may also need to undergo an eye exam or blood test so your doctor can check for any side effects.

If there is no remarkable improvement in your IC symptoms, your health care provider may recommend another 3 months of treatment.

It is important to note, however, that certain studies have found that IC patients who had long-term exposure to PPS have an increased risk of being diagnosed with a new macular disease at around five or seven continuous years of taking the medication.

In rare instances, however, patients may still suffer from resulting injuries even long after they have stopped taking the drug.

In fact:

In 2019, a case report published in the journal Ophthalmic Surgery, Lasers and Imaging Retina discussed the case of a patient whose PPS-related maculopathy continued to worsen even after 6 years of discontinuing the drug.

At times, these macular changes may also be irreversible.

Seek immmediate medical attention if you notice any changes in your vision while taking Elmiron.

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