When your doctor prescribes a medication, you put your trust in them and the creators of that medication to keep you safe and help treat your medical condition. Unfortunately, not all medications are safe and many can lead to permanent damage to your body. If you are taking the drug Elmiron, a drug that has been widely prescribed for a bladder condition, you may be at risk of losing your eyesight permanently. A recent study has down that about 25 percent of all patients taking Elmiron show signs of serious retinal damage. The retina is a key part of your vision that senses light at the back of your eye and allows you to see. Elmiron’s toxicity to the retina was not found sooner as it can masquerade as other commonly known retinal conditions, including pattern dystrophy and age-induced macular degeneration. If you are currently taking or have previously taken Elmiron and have experienced a reduction in your vision or are now blind, you may have a valid claim for financial damages.
Elmiron is a medication commonly prescribed for interstitial cystitis that causes chronic pain in the bladder and pelvic region. More than one million Americans are estimated to have this condition, the majority being women. The only currently FDA-approved pill to treat this condition is Elmiron and it has been in circulation for decades. Thousands of patients have been exposed to this drug and have put their vision at risk without even knowing it. Many patients take this drug for years to help minimize their pain and treat their condition. Elmiron works by forming a layer on the bladder wall that protects it from harmful or irritating substances found in urine. There are many other common side effects caused by Elmiron, including diarrhea, hair loss, nausea, headache, upset stomach, and abdominal pain. Doctors prescribe this medication fully aware of these possible side effects but they have determined that the risk of these side effects is worth it to reduce pain. When serious side effects are present, including bruising and bleeding, vision changes, eye pain, heartburn, shortness of breath, discomfort when swallowing, and increased heartrate, patients are advised to immediately seek medical attention.
The patten of retinal damage seen in patients taking Elmiron was noticed by Dr. Nieraj Jain of the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Jain reported that six of his patients taking Elmiron for 15 or more years had developed unusual changes in the central part of the retina. This part of the eye is responsible for delivering clear vision. These six patients had no history of eye problems and the only explanation for these abnormalities was the long-term use of Elmiron. A warning was sent to the medical community by Dr. Jain and his colleagues stating that Elmiron may be more dangerous than expected. A group of ophthalmologists at Kaiser Permanente heeded that red flag and took a look at their patients who were currently taking Elmiron. They found one female patient who had been misdiagnosed as having retinal dystrophy when in fact she had been taking Elmiron long-term. This case prompted the team of doctors to investigate Kaiser’s database of 4.3 million patients.
They found 140 patients in the database who had taken a significant amount of the drug, enough to be considered toxic, over the course of 15 years. Out of those patients that came in for an exam, they found that the rate of toxicity was incredibly high in those patients taking 500 to 1,500 grams of Elmiron. “It’s unfortunate,” said Dr. Vora of the Kaiser Permanente medical team. “You have a patient with a chronic condition like interstitial cystitis, for which there is no cure and no effective treatment. They get put on these medications because it’s thought to have few side effects and few risks, and no one thinks about it again. And year after year, the number of pills they’re taking goes up and up.”
It is still unclear how much of the medication causes toxicity in each patient, and it is now recommended that patients taking Elmiron long-term who show no outward signs of toxicity be screened for retinal damage at least once a year. If there are signs of retina damage, the patient should speak to their urologist or ob/gyn to discuss discontinuation of Elmiron and other treatment options for interstitial cystitis. When identified early, retinal damage may be mitigated by discontinuing the medication. Late state toxicity can unfortunately result in permanent vision loss.
Once the scientific studies showing the relationship between Elmiron and retina damage were brought to light, many patients have been stepping forward to file lawsuits to recover damage for their injuries. If you are a victim of side effects caused by Elmiron use and have retinal damage that has decreased your vision or has permanently blinded you, call our offices today.
Dangerous prescription drugs can cause permanent and life-altering injuries to patients who believe the drugs will help them, not inflict further pain. Pharmaceutical manufacturers often refuse to disclose critical health information in order to maintain market dominance and increase profits. If you or a loved one has taken Elmiron and suffered any eye injury or vision loss, contact the Houston dangerous drug attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today to discuss your case at no cost.