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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has scheduled oral arguments for a hearing session on December 3rd in Washington, D.C., to evaluate whether to consolidate and centralize all Elmiron vision loss lawsuits before one federal judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
There are currently about 100 product liability cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, each raising similar allegations that the drug makers failed to warn that side effects of Elmiron may cause permanent retinal damage, known as pigmentary maculopathy.
Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) is a prescription medication for treatment of interstitial cystitis, or “painful bladder syndrome”, which is a chronic condition resulting in long-term use of the medication for years, if not decades.
The medication has been on the market since 1996, but did not include any warnings about the risk of vision problems until earlier this year, leading to a number of long-term users developing serious and irreversible retina damage, which can result in blindness, dark spots on vision, difficulty adjusting in dark light, trouble reading and other commplications.
As an increasing number of Elmiron lawsuits have been filed throughout the federal court system, a motion was filed last month, which asks the JPML to transfer the litigation to U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the District of New Jersey, to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts, reduce duplicative discovery into common issues and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.
The drug maker filed a response several days ago, agreeing the cases should be consolidated, and that the venue should be New Jersey. However, some other plaintiffs have filed responses calling for the claims to be sent to other venues, including Pennsylvania.
On October 22, the JPML issued a notice of hearing session (PDF), announcing it will hear oral arguments on the potential creation of an Elmiron MDL on December 3. The oral arguments will be held via videoconference or teleconference from the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C., adhering to social distancing guidelines in place due to the ongoing pandemic.
There are currently at least 24 Elmiron cases already filed before Judge Martinotti, with dozens of additional claims spread across at least 10 different federal district courts.
As Elmiron lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is expected several thousand additional claims may be brought in the coming months and years.