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Janssen Does Not Oppose MDL For Elmiron Vision Loss Cases in Federal Court

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With a growing number of Elmiron vision lawsuits being filed throughout the federal court system, the makers of the interstitial cystitis drug indicate they do not oppose the creation of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which would centralize the cases before one U.S. District Judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Janssen and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, face nearly 100 product liability claims brought by former users of the bladder medication, each raising similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided that side effects of Elmiron may be toxic to eyes and leave users with a type of permanent retina damage, known as pigmentary maculopathy.

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) has been sold since 1996 as a safe and effective treatment for interstitial cystitis, or “painful bladder syndrome”. However, warnings about potential retina damage were not added to the drug label until earlier this year, leading a number of former users to file lawsuits over vision problems experienced in recent years, including difficulty adjusting in dark light, trouble reading, centralized dark spots and other complications.

In September, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), asking that cases filed throughout the federal court system be transferred to U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the District of New Jersey, to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts, avoid duplicative discovery and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.

In a Response (PDF) filed on October 15, Janssen indicates it does not oppose the request, and agrees with the proposal to centralize the cases before Judge Martinotti in New Jersey.

Janssen said in the filing that it now faces at least 93 cases pending in 11 different federal courts, noting that at least 30 additional cases have been filed since the plaintiffs first filed their motion to transfer.

“While Janssen disagrees with Plaintiffs’ characterization of the facts, it does not oppose pretrial centralization of this litigation,” the drug manufacturer’s response states. “Of course, these cases all involve very individualized and plaintiff-specific issues, including different usage histories, different prescribing physicians, and different alleged symptoms. But the cases will also likely present common discovery and other pretrial matters regarding Elmiron which would benefit from coordinated pretrial proceedings.”

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.

The U.S. JPML is expected to consider the motion during an upcoming hearing session scheduled for December 3, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.

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