blog home Product Liability Understanding the Elmiron Lawsuits Against J&J

Understanding the Elmiron Lawsuits Against J&J

By Jason Bottlinger on November 13, 2020

Since 1996, the oral medication Elmiron has been used to treat bladder pain and discomfort caused by interstitial cystitis (IC). While approved by the FDA, over the past decades, studies have shown that this drug can be toxic to a patient’s eyes, causing damage to the retinas and eventual vision loss with long-term use. Such a horrific side-effect should have been identified early on by the manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, and their failure to do so has made them the subject to significant class action lawsuits.

The Timeline of Elmiron Lawsuits

The first Elmiron lawsuit against J&J was filed in March 2020 based on the argument that the pharmaceutical company was aware of the drug’s dangerous side effects and failed to warn consumers of the risks. The plaintiff in the case began using the medication in 2012 to treat IC; however, over the next six years, her vision rapidly deteriorated until, in 2019, she was diagnosed with permanent vision loss. Additional cases have been filed against the company as well.

But the lawsuits against J&J are not only linked to Tina’s case, in fact. Research into this medication has been ongoing since 2018 when the Emory Eye Center released a study of six patients who suffered from retinal damage after years of Elmiron use. Although the case study was small, the research center followed up a year later with further research that further drew connections between Elmiron and eye damage.

This research was expanded even further by Kaiser Permanente, which investigated patients who had been using Elmiron for at least 15 years. Among these patients, 25% showed signs of toxicity and vision loss, with rates being even higher among patients who had taken larger doses. Between mid-2019 and early 2020, three more studies were released from various research institutes into the link between Elmiron use and vision loss.

Proving Liability for Elmiron-Related Injuries

All of this research appears to support the idea that Elmiron directly caused eye injuries. In fact, the lawsuits against J&J assert that the pharmaceutical giant failed to warn consumers of the dangers of eye damage caused by long-term use of Elmiron. In fact, it was not until 2019 that the company issued new warnings labels to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that detail the side-effects, including vision loss. However, it is not clear whether or not J&J was aware of the issue when the product went to market.

Awareness is a key element of product liability claims involving pharmaceutical companies. In order for patients to receive compensation for injuries caused by dangerous medications, they must clearly explain how the drug caused an injury, why the company should have reasonably been aware of the danger, and how the company failed to prevent injuries. Preventing injuries can include manufacturing a drug with a new formula that minimizes the risk or warning patients of all potential side-effects. In this case, the lawsuits against J&J are based on the idea that the company failed to warn consumers and failed to market all of the side-effects.

Given the strong research that supports a connection between Elmiron and vision loss – and J&J have issued new warning labels that do acknowledge the link – it may be possible for patients to receive compensation from the pharmaceutical giant. But the final element that must come into play is whether or not J&J knew about the danger. If they did not, it could be significantly harder for plaintiffs to receive compensation. However, if J&J did know, then the company clearly acted in negligence and endangered millions of patients to debilitating medical conditions. In fact, if these lawsuits are successful, it may open up further cases against the company.

If you were prescribed Elmiron to treat IC and suffered vision damage as a result of long-term use (typically two years at a minimum), then you may be able to hold J&J accountable for your injuries. To begin filing a case, you will want to reach out to an Omaha product liability attorney at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. to schedule a free case evaluation. Our team will need to review your medical records and speak to your doctors about your diagnosis but, if Elmiron did damage your vision, we can push for full compensation from J&J on your behalf. To schedule your free case evaluation today, contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234.

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