The First Elmiron Vision Loss Lawsuit

Several hundred Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) vision loss lawsuits have been consolidated into multi-district litigation (MDL) and the pool of plaintiffs continues to grow. When Kimberly Pelczar filed her lawsuit just over 18 months ago, the landscape was very different. 

Kimberly’s Elmiron Story

Like others included in the MDL, Pelczar alleges that she was prescribed Elmiron for interstitial cystitis and bladder pain. She says she started taking Elmiron in approximately 2005–that’s nearly a decade after the drug was approved by the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for these conditions. 

After taking the drug for about 10 years, Pelzcar says she started experiencing “visual symptoms” and sought medical care. At this time, Pelczar had no reason to connect her deteriorating vision to her bladder medication. But, she and others claim Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, did have reason to know the risks. They say manufacturers ignored reportes of adverse effects for years, continuing to market Elmiron as a safe and effective treatment for interstitial cystitis. 

In 2019, Pelczar was diagnosed with permanent retinal injury and vision loss.

Emiron Vision Damage “Patient Zero”

Though Pelczar was the first to file suit, she wasn’t the first to learn that the drug she was taking for her bladder condition may have been responsible for her vision loss and related symptoms. That was Valerie Hull. 

Hull’s complaint says she took Elmiron from approximately 2001-2018. She was first diagnosed with vision-related injuries, including macular degeneration, in 2014. But, like Pelczar, she says she and her physicians had no reason to connect her visual deterioration to Elmiron. So, she continued to take the drug for more than three additional years, while her vision continued to deteriorate. 

Ultimately, she says she suffered macular degeneration, changes in eye color pigment, severe vision degradation, loss of night vision and pigmentary maculopathy. 

Valerie was documented as “patient zero” in the initial small study conducted by Emory Eye Clinic. That study included just six patients, but offered enough evidence of a possible causal link that the results were published in 2018 with a notation that the additional investigation was warranted. 

Valerie filed suit in June of 2020.

The Elmiron MDL is Growing Quickly

Kimberly Pelczar’s filing in late March of 2020 was the first identified Elmiron lawsuit. At the end of 2020, when the Elmiron cases were consolidated into MDL in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, more than 60 cases were consolidated. Less than a year later, the total number of cases in the MDL is approaching 600. But, many more people around the country may have suffered vision loss and related conditions after taking Elmiron for an extended period. 

The connection may not be immediately obvious, as many people have taken the drug for years without issue before developing pigmentary maculopathy and related problems. Some have even developed these conditions after they have stopped taking Elmiron. And, until recently, most physicians treating people for interstitial cystitis and most eye doctors didn’t have the information necessary to consider pentosan polysulfate sodium as a possible cause. 

If you took Elmiron in the past and have suffered from vision-related problems such as eye pain, blurred vision, black spots or “holes” in your vision, trouble adjusting to low lighting, difficulty reading, or other visual disturbances, it’s in your best interest to consult an Elmiron litigation attorney as soon as possible. 

It’s important to note that it can be difficult to distinguish visual deterioration potentially attributable to Elmiron from other types of macular degeneration, or even what some people interpret as normal vision loss due to aging. If you took Elmiron for an extended time and have not had a thorough eye exam since doctors became aware of this possible connection, consider being evaluated.

If you are currently taking pentosan polysulfate sodium and are experiencing the issues described above or other vision problems, it is especially important that you are medically assessed. The manufacturer now recommends that anyone taking the drug have ongoing vision assessments.

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