The Elmiron Lawsuit Explained

Jun 19, 2023 | Defective Pharmaceuticals

Janssen Pharmaceuticals has faced a series of legal claims for dangerous drugs after research results linked Elmiron to eye harm. These claims accuse Elmiron of causing vision loss or damage. More than 1,740 people have filed an Elmiron lawsuit in federal court. 

More of these bladder medication lawsuits have been filed in state courts. Many observers expect the Elmiron multidistrict litigation action to settle sometime in 2023.

Elmiron Approved for Use Despite Known Side Effects

The Food and Drug Administration approved the bladder dysfunction drug Elniron, also known as Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate), in 1996. At the time, Jannsen knew that the drug caused some vision side effects. A dozen years later, when Jannsen knew the true nature of these side effects, the company did nothing.

In 2018, the American Academy of Ophthalmology concluded that long-term Elmiron use caused retina issues, specifically pigmentary maculopathy, a condition also known as macular degeneration.

Initially, pigmentary maculopathy causes blurred vision, usually in the center of the field of view. Over time, it can lead to total blindness. PM isn’t an isolated side-effect that affects a few people. According to one study, 25 percent of long-term Elmiron users develop serious eye problems. 

Dangerous Drug Liability

To obtain compensation for PM and other drug-induced maladies, our Houston Elmiron injury lawyers can help you navigate your legal claim. 

Usually, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. It doesn’t matter if the side-effect was intentional or unintentional. An attorney must only show a connection between the drug or other product and the injury.

This connection isn’t easy to prove. As mentioned, considerable evidence confirms the link between Elmiron and eye problems. However, deep-pocketed pharmaceutical companies like use expert witnesses who testify that the drug is as safe.

The public nuisance rule is available in a few cases. The 1990s fen-phen lawsuit was a public nuisance claim, as was the 1990s tobacco lawsuit. This rule applies if a product hurts a large number of people at roughly the same time. 

Public nuisance claims often prove successful. However, due to their complexity, a knowledgeable defective pharmaceutical attorney must carefully consider when to utilize them.

Failure to warn, a negligence claim, might be the most widely-used defective product claim. These claims only have four basic elements:

  • A legal duty to warn customers about possible side effects,
  • Breach of that duty, which in this case is continuing to sell Elmiron without adding an adequate warning,
  • Cause, or an elevated risk of illness or injury, as opposed to an illness or injury itself, and
  • Tangible damages.

Negligence victims are entitled to compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are also usually available if there’s clear and convincing evidence the company deliberately ignored a known risk.

Multidistrict Litigation Settlements

In 2018, when it learned of the Elmiron-PM link, Jannsen did nothing. Now, the company must pay the price, and that price will probably be high.

MDL cases almost always settle out of court, mostly because officials consolidate all these actions for pretrial purposes. Instead of resolving cases on a piecemeal basis, the defendant, which in this case is Jannsen, settles hundreds or thousands of cases in one fell swoop. 

Usually, judges schedule a handful of bellwether trials. These trials enable both sides to gauge the strength of their claims and defenses. But if an MDL matter settles early, there’s no need for expensive and time-consuming trials.

Significantly, these settlements aren’t shared and shared alike. Victims who did the heavy lifting by coming forward and partnering with a Houston personal injury attorney understandably get a larger share of the settlement. 

Time is running out to get a larger share of an Elmiron settlement. For a free consultation with an experienced Houston Elmiron injury lawyer, contact Williams Hart & Boundas LLP.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.


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