Maculopathy Side Effects from Elmiron May Be Misdiagnosed as Macular Degeneration, Researchers Warn

As more information comes to light about the potential risk of severe vision problems and eye disorders associated with the interstitial cystitis drug Elmiron, researchers warn in a new case study that these eye problems are often misdiagnosed. In a case report published late last month in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports, researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Northern California highlighted a case involving a 41-year-old woman who developed atypical maculopathy while taking Elmiron and was misdiagnosed with a form of inherited macular degeneration known as Stargardt disease. If you believe you or someone you love has been adversely affected by retinal maculopathy side effects of Elmiron, consult a reputable product liability lawyer today to discuss your legal options.

What is Elmiron Used For?

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate, or PPS) is a medication used to treat interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition characterized by bladder and pelvic pain or pressure and a frequent urge to urinate. Interstitial cystitis is part of a group of diseases known collectively as painful bladder syndrome, which affects more than one million Americans, and pentosan polysulfate is the only FDA-approved oral medicine for the treatment of the condition. Elmiron is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and despite the fact that several case reports and independent studies have linked Elmiron to retinal deterioration, vision loss, blindness and other problems, Janssen has yet to issue warnings about these alleged side effects to patients and healthcare providers in the United States.

Case Report Links Elmiron to Retinal Maculopathy

According to this new case report, the Kaiser Permanente doctors were consulted for a second opinion by a 41-year-old woman who was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a genetic eye disorder that causes progressive vision loss. Stargardt disease is similar to the kind of retinal maculopathy side effects that have been linked to Elmiron treatment, but the condition is inherited, and onset typically occurs in the first 10 or 20 years of a person’s life. According to the case report, the patient experienced symptoms like darkening of her vision, progressive difficulty with reading and a loss of night vision. Although her medical history included a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis, she was misdiagnosed with Stargardt disease. Upon reviewing the patient’s pharmacy records, the Kaiser Permanente doctors discovered that she had been prescribed Elmiron and asked her to stop taking the medication. The patient was ultimately diagnosed with pentosan polysulfate (PPS) maculopathy due to chronic exposure to the interstitial cystitis drug.

Doctors, Patients Unaware of Elmiron Vision Problems

The general lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals about the potential link between Elmiron use and severe vision problems has resulted in many cases of Elmiron-related maculopathy being misdiagnosed as macular degeneration and other similar eye disorders. Unfortunately, that means many patients with interstitial cystitis who develop pentosan polysulfate maculopathy continue taking Elmiron to treat their bladder condition, unaware of the fact that the medication could be causing their vision problems. According to the Kaiser Permanente researchers, “This case emphasizes the importance of reviewing patient medication profiles prior to rendering a diagnosis of a retinal dystrophy. It is essential that ophthalmologists catch drug toxicities as early as possible, to minimize risk of further irreversible vision loss due to continued medication exposure.”

An Experienced Elmiron Injury Attorney Can Help

As a result of Janssen’s failure to properly warn patients and the medical community about the potential risk of retinal maculopathy from Elmiron, patients with interstitial cystitis may continue taking the drug, thereby exposing themselves to a potential risk of irreversible vision loss. Janssen already faces a growing number of Elmiron injury lawsuits brought by former users of the interstitial cystitis medication who suffered preventable vision loss, and the number of claims is expected to grow as patients realize that they could have avoided permanent retinal maculopathy had information about the risk of potential side effects from Elmiron been properly disclosed. For more information about the alleged link between Elmiron and retinal maculopathy, or to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability claim against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, contact an experienced Elmiron injury attorney today.