New Elmiron studies confirm risk of eye damage from interstitial cystitis drug

An elderly woman undergoes an eye exam at her ophthalmologist.

The first study linking the interstitial cystitis drug Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) to an increased risk of eye damage was published in 2018. In the two years since, dozens of additional studies have confirmed that Elmiron users may develop vision loss, blindness, retinal toxicity, or other vision problems due to the side effects of this drug.

In the months since the link between Elmiron and eye damage was made public, dozen of women who developed vision problems after using the drug to treat their interstitial cystitis symptoms have filed lawsuits against its manufacturers. Patients who used Elmiron and have been diagnosed with eye damage may also qualify to file a lawsuit.

Additional Studies Show Increased Risk of Elmiron Side Effects

The first study linking Elmiron to an increased risk of vision problems was published in 2018 by researchers at the Emory Eye Center. Prior to this study, most medical experts believed that Elmiron was associated with few significant side effects. However, the Emory doctors revealed in their study that they had observed a type of eye damage known as pigmentary maculopathy that was unique to patients who were treated with Elmiron.

Following this initial 2018 study — and a follow-up study published by the Emory researchers the following year — more scientists began to study Elmiron in order to understand the risk of vision loss associated with the drug:

  • In October 2019, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in California conducted an analysis of patients who had been treated with Elmiron for at least five years. The researchers found that 24% of the patients whose records were analyzed in the study had developed eye damage while taking Elmiron.
  • The following month, researchers at the Emory Eye Center published a large study which found that long-term Elmiron users were more likely to develop pigmentary maculopathy and age-related macular degeneration than non-users.
  • The same month, a doctor at Harvest Medical School Dept. Ophthalmology published a case study which suggested that patients who were prescribed lower doses of Elmiron could also be at risk of developing eye damage.
  • In 2020, the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study which called for new safety protocols because of the eye damage risks associated with Elmiron. The study’s authors called for doctors to warn patients about the risk of side effects associated with Elmiron, and to have patients undergo annual examination in order to watch for signs of pigmentary maculopathy, macular degeneration, retinal toxicity, or other signs of eye damage.

Lawsuits Filed by Elmiron Users with Eye Damage

In the wake of these and other studies about the risk of eye damage associated with Elmiron, dozens of patients who developed vision loss after using the drug have filed lawsuits against its manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. These lawsuits have alleged that the two drug companies failed to properly warn patients about the risk of vision problems they could face from taking Elmiron.

In addition to the dozens of individual lawsuits filed by women who developed vision loss after using Elmiron. Johnson & Johnson and Janssen also face class action lawsuits filed on behalf of Elmiron users. A class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. in 2020 that alleged that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen withheld information about the side effects of Elmiron from doctors. Another class action lawsuit involving Elmiron was also filed this year in Canada.

Free Legal Consultation for Elmiron Users with Eye Damage

If you or a loved one were prescribed Elmiron to treat interstitial cystitis and have been diagnosed with pigmentary maculopathy, retinal toxicity, eye damage, vision loss, or other eyesight problems, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries. The first step in taking legal action is to consult with an experienced product liability attorney, who can advise you regarding your legal rights and options.

To find out if you qualify to file an Elmiron lawsuit, contact the law firm of Hissey, Mulderig & Friend to schedule a free legal consultation about your case. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by completing our free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page. After receiving your information, a member of our staff will contact you to schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys.

About the Author: Hissey, Mulderig & Friend