Long-Term Elmiron Users Face Growing Concerns About Retinal Maculopathy Risk

There have been growing concerns in recent months about the possibility of patients with interstitial cystitis who regularly take the medication Elmiron suffering irreversible vision loss, retinal deterioration and other problems associated with a condition called retinal maculopathy. Elmiron is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit and the drug has been sold in the United States since 1996, marketed by Janssen as a safe and effective treatment for interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome. If you believe you or someone you love has suffered retinal maculopathy from taking Elmiron, it is important that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. You may be eligible to file an Elmiron injury lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals in order to pursue compensation for your injuries.

Interstitial Cystitis Drug Linked to Permanent Vision Loss

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) is a prescription medication used to treat bladder pain and discomfort caused by cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder. Elmiron is the only oral medication that has been approved to treat interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic condition characterized by bladder pain, bladder pressure and sometimes pelvic pain, a fact that has resulted in most users taking the drug for years. The drug is thought to work by restoring a damaged, thin or “leaky” bladder surface, creating a barrier between the bladder wall and harmful or irritating substances in urine. However, the drug’s exact mechanical action in patients with interstitial cystitis is unknown.

Patients with interstitial cystitis are encouraged to take Elmiron regularly to get the most benefit from the drug. Unfortunately, a growing body of research has suggested that side effects of Elmiron may result in retinal maculopathy or pigmentary maculopathy, which poses a serious potential health risk for regular Elmiron users. Retinal maculopathy is an eye condition characterized by a progressive and irreversible loss of vision, difficulty reading, difficulty adjusting to dim lighting, vision distortion and dark spots in the center of the vision.

Vision Problems Misdiagnosed as Macular Degeneration

Because information about the alleged link between Elmiron and retinal maculopathy is limited, the condition is often misdiagnosed as macular degeneration, a common age-related eye disease that causes blurred or reduced central vision and may get worse over time. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over the age of 50. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 1.8 million people have age-related macular degeneration and another 7.3 million people are at substantial risk for vision loss from the disease. Unfortunately, because retinal maculopathy is so often misdiagnosed, many longtime Elmiron users continue taking the medication to treat their bladder condition, unaware that it may be responsible for their progressive vision loss.

Study Highlights Risk of Elmiron-Associated Maculopathy

In a study published in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology last September, researchers outlined the potential risk of maculopathy from Elmiron, suggesting that more needs to be done to monitor or test for retinal deterioration in long-term Elmiron users. In the course of their study, the researchers examined data on 35 patients who reported long-term pentosan polysulfate sodium exposure. The researchers noted that their findings “suggest pentosan polysulfate sodium-associated maculopathy is a vision-threatening condition that can manifest in the setting of long-term exposure to the drug.” Nearly eight months after the study was published, the interstitial cystitis drug continues to be marketed and sold in the United States with no warnings for patients or healthcare providers about the potential risk of permanent vision loss.

What to Do if You are Taking Elmiron

Elmiron-associated maculopathy is a serious condition that can result in permanent vision loss for long-term Elmiron users. If you are taking Elmiron or took Elmiron in the past and you have experienced vision-related symptoms like difficulty reading, vision distortion, blurred vision, vision loss or dark spots in the center of your vision, you could be experiencing Elmiron-related retinal maculopathy. Given the lack of proper warnings about the potential risk of retinal maculopathy associated with the long-term use of pentosan polysulfate sodium, you may have been misdiagnosed with another retinal disease, like macular degeneration.

Elmiron vision loss lawsuits are now being pursued by patients in the United States, which has finally alerted current and former Elmiron users to the potential problem. The Elmiron lawsuits filed against Janssen Pharmaceuticals involve similar allegations that patients could have avoided suffering permanent retinal damage and debilitating vision loss had the company provided adequate warnings about the risk of retinal maculopathy linked to Elmiron and the importance of monitoring for changes in vision during treatment. For more information about possibly pursuing an Elmiron vision loss lawsuit against Janssen, contact a reputable Elmiron attorney today.