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.
Elmiron is a dangerous drug under fire for harmful and serious side effects. A blood thinner and bladder protectant, Elmiron is commonly prescribed to patients suffering from interstitial cystitis and irritation and/or inflammation of the bladder. Although the drug is prescribed to relieve patients of bladder pain, usage has been linked to an increased risk of developing the eye disorder pigmentary maculopathy, among other vision loss problems, any one of which can result in vision loss.
Elmiron is produced by pharmaceutical manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals that is prescribed to patients with interstitial cystitis-related bladder inflammation, irritation, and pelvic pain. These conditions can range from moderate to severe, with the most severe cases typically associated with the urgent sensation of needing to use the restroom, which women tend to experience more often than men. Elmiron is designed to attach to the wall of a patient’s bladder, buffering it from irritants; however, growing reports of long-term use of the drug suggest it does more harm than good.
Elmiron Vision Loss
Although all drugs come with potential side effects, they are usually mild and not life-altering. Elmiron, however, is alleged to cause the debilitating eye disorder pigmentary maculopathy in patients who use it for an extended period of time. According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 25% of patients surveyed with long-term prescribed use of the drug displayed definite signs of abnormal and increased retinal damage. Elmiron users reported the following symptoms:
- Vision dimming
- Difficulty adjusting to lighting, dim, and dark settings
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty detecting objects at close range
- Paracentral scotoma (loss of vision in portions of the field of vision)
Sadly, the almost one million patients suffering from interstitial cystitis have limited options when it comes to prescription medication to treat their pain and discomfort from the disease. This means those who seek treatment for pain may actually worsen their health.
Currently Elmiron is the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug to treat interstitial cystitis-related issues; and, because of a lack of market competition, Elmiron comes a high price tag that has resulted in significant profits for Janssen. Elmiron’s dominance and ability to produce massive profits only serve to encourage ongoing manufacturer irresponsibility. Manufacturers have a duty to disclose the potential dangers associated with use of their products; and, Elmiron users have experienced unnecessary and preventable injury due to a lack of complete disclosure to consumers.
What Does This Mean for Elmiron Patients?
The full extent of Elmiron’s dangers have yet to be discovered; however, studies have uncovered high toxicity levels from long-term use can lead to maculopathy. While each patient reacts differently to medication, it may take years for some Elmiron patients to notice vision loss. The area of the eye that Elmiron’s toxins attack is known as the macula – an extremely sensitive area of the eye critical for vision. Depending on the patient, damage to the macula could result in permanent loss of vision in a timeframe that does not correlate with typical vision loss factors, such as age. It’s important to note macular degeneration is painless, meaning that it is unlikely Elmiron users will be aware of the severe and potentially irreversible damage happening, quite literally, before their eyes until it is too late.
Users who haven’t experienced symptoms or who experienced mild issues should consult with their urologist on discontinuing Elmiron use rather than voluntarily ceasing taking the drug. It’s also recommended that Elmiron patients consult with their ophthalmologists to undergo annual retinal screenings to monitor for damage. It is more than disheartening for patients who already live with chronic pain that comes with their illness to discover the only available treatment can result in permanent vision loss.
While the negatives associated with the use of Elmiron are plenty, they do not render a patient helpless. Elmiron patients can regain a sense of control over their health by pursuing legal action against Janssen Pharmaceuticals for its negligent actions that inflicted further injury to consumers. No patient should suffer life-changing side effects because a drug manufacturer failed to disclose all potential side effects and dangers clearly on product packaging and in advertising.
Houston Defective Drug Attorneys
Patients and healthcare professionals trust that pharmaceutical manufacturers have disclosed all information on their drugs to both physicians and potential consumers prior to widespread consumption. Dangerous drugs can cause permanent and life-altering injuries are prescribed to patients who believe the drugs will help them, not inflict further pain. Pharmaceutical manufacturers would rather not 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.