When we take medication that has been prescribed by a doctor, we expect that it will be both safe and effective. In far too many cases, the medications that we take are found to be dangerous or defective, causing other diseases or problems.
Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money. They may rush a drug to market, ignoring safety concerns, in order to get ahead of the competition or to increase their bottom line. Recently, scientists have linked Elmiron, a drug used to treat a bladder condition, with a specific type of eye disease. Elmiron’s manufacturer never warned patients that long-term use of the drug may affect their ability to read or to see.
If you have developed an eye disease after taking Elmiron, you may be able to recover compensation for any injuries that you have suffered. A Kansas City drug and product liability attorney can help, going to battle against giant corporations to get you the compensation that you deserve.
What Is Elmiron?
Elmiron is a medication that is designed to treat the symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure and pain, as well as pelvic pain. The symptoms of IC include:
- A persistent, urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urination, often in small amounts
- Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills, with relief after urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
The exact cause of IC is not known. There is no single treatment to eliminate the signs and symptoms of IC. A combination of physical therapy, oral medications, nerve stimulation, and other procedures (such as bladder distention or medication placed into the bladder) may be used.
In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium under the brand name Elmiron for the relief of bladder pain and discomfort associated with IC. While it isn’t exactly clear how this drug works, it may restore the inner surface of the bladder, protecting the bladder wall from substances in urine that could irritate it.
While Elmiron (pentosan) does offer relief for IC sufferers, it also has a number of potential side effects. These include hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, blood in the stool, headache, rash, upset stomach, abnormal liver function tests, dizziness, and bruising. More recently, Elmiron has been linked to eye disease.
How Does Elmiron Cause Eye Disease?
In 2018, researchers at Emory Eye Center at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta released a study linking the use of Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) with a specific type of eye disease: pigmentary maculopathy. The study evaluated the long-term use of Elmiron by patients with IC. Most of the participants in the study reported difficulty reading. An examination of these individuals found that they each showed signs of eye disease.
In 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology published a larger study from researchers at Kaiser Permanente in California. This study confirmed that long-term use of Elmiron can cause damage to the retinas. According to the study’s authors, approximately 25% of patients who had taken Elmiron for an extended period of time showed signs of this eye disease.
A maculopathy is any condition or disease of the macula, which is the spot on the retina where vision is sharpest. Pigmentary maculopathy is a new condition that involves hyperpigmentation in the eye, with deposits surrounding it. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Difficulty reading
- Slow adjustment to low or reduced light environments
- Blurred vision
The long-term effects of Elmiron are still being studied. It is unknown whether stopping this medication will change the course of this retinal disease. Significantly, patients with pigmentary maculopathy may have been misdiagnosed with macular degeneration, which has similar symptoms.
Can I File a Lawsuit If I Developed an Eye Disease from Elmiron?
When the FDA approves a medication for us, most Americans believe that drug is safe to take. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Too often, prescription medications that were developed to help people end up causing other health problems — such as a drug to relieve symptoms of bladder pain-causing eye disease.
Elmiron is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Belgian drug company that is owned by Johnson & Johnson. In 2019 alone, Johnson & Johnson recorded $82.1 billion in sales, the majority of which ($42.198 billion) were linked to pharmaceutical sales.
Manufacturers of medications can be held liable for the injuries that their products cause if the drug is defective or unreasonably dangerous. This is known as a product liability lawsuit. It may happen in one of three ways:
- Manufacturer error
- Failure to warn of possible negative side effects
- Design flaw
If an Elmiron lawyer can demonstrate that the medicine was dangerous or defective in some way, then the manufacturer (Janssen) may be held strictly liable for any harm that you suffered as a result. Strict liability is a legal concept that allows a company or individual to be held responsible without proving that they were in some way negligent or had an intent to cause harm.
In this type of case, there are often thousands of people who have been affected in a similar way by taking the same drug. They may be tried as class action lawsuits, which is when a group of people file a lawsuit together, with one or several people acting as representatives of the class. This type of lawsuit reduces the cost of litigation and makes it easier to try cases and to come to terms on a settlement.
Have You Been Diagnosed with Eye Disease After Taking Elmiron? We Can Help.
Dealing with a condition like interstitial cystitis isn’t easy. But the treatment for a health problem shouldn’t cause other health issues. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with eye disease after taking Elmiron, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover for your losses.
Wagstaff & Cartmell is a midwestern firm with a national reputation. We have taken on major corporations in cases involving dangerous or defective products, including drugs and medical devices — and won. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today at (816) 701-1100 or email us at any time.