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Two class action lawsuits have been filed in Canada, claiming the side effects of Elmiron left long-term users of the interstitial cystitis drug with permanent vision loss and retinal damage.
The complaints were filed on July 29 on behalf of Canadian residents, with a separate lawsuit specifically filed on behalf of residents of Quebec, according to a press release issued by the filing law firm.
The Canadian class action claims present similar allegations to those being presented in a growing number of individual Elmiron vision loss lawsuits being filed in U.S. courts nationwide, alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary knew or should have known that the drug has a toxic effect on the retina, yet withheld information from users and the medical community.
Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) was introduced in the United States in 1996, and was sold without any warnings about the link between Elmiron and vision loss until recently.
Over the past year, a series of studies and case reports have been published by independent researchers linking Elmiron side effects to pigmentary maculopathy, which may cause permanent vision loss, blurry vision, dark spots and prolonged adaption to dim light.
Canadian consumers received a warning about the Elmiron vision risks back in October 2019, advising consumers and doctors in the country to monitor for symptoms of vision loss while using the drug, including difficulty reading, prolonged dark adaptation and other serious problems. However, similar Elmiron warnings were not added to the U.S. drug label until last month.
The Elmiron class action lawsuit filed in Canada alleges that the manufacturers withheld information from users and doctors, continuing to promote the medication with a false and misleading safety profile, which has resulted in widespread and long-term use of the medication in Canada.
“Elmiron is used by hundreds of thousands of Canadians, the majority of whom are women, in the management of interstitial cystitis,” the press release states. “Elmiron, which is often used long-term, has been linked to permanent vision loss. These vision impairments significantly impact the quality of life for the Canadians that have suffered these injuries.”
In the United States, since most ophthalmologists were previously unaware about the potential vision side effects of Elmiron, many users are just now learning that long-term exposure to the drug may be the cause of eye problems they have been suffering for years. As a result, the U.S. Elmiron litigation is expected to continue to grow in the coming months and years, likely involving thousands of individual claims being pursued by former users left with permanent vision problems.