This page features: Cited Research Articles
Interstitial cystitis (IC), commonly referred to as “painful bladder syndrome,” is a relatively common but painful condition experienced by millions of Americans. While IC is not dangerous or life-threatening, patients were prescribed the pharmaceutical drug Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) for the treatment of IC after the drug was approved by the FDA in 1996. Unfortunately, among the Elmiron side effects, eye damage and other serious issues have proven this drug to be dangerous.
Taken orally in pill form, Elmiron works like an anticoagulant (blood thinner) to prevent clots and was generally considered to be safe for the treatment of IC. While urologists typically prescribed a dose of 300 mg daily, patients suffering severe symptoms were often prescribed five times that amount.
Elmiron comes with plenty of bothersome, if common, side effects. These include hair loss, nausea, headache, and abdominal pain. Red eyes are also a common side effect, though it’s become clear that there’s an even more serious link between Elmiron and eye disease. Nothing could have prepared doctors in Georgia who diagnosed retinal damage in a group of women taking Elmiron for IC.
Elmiron Eye Problems and Side Effects
The Emory Eye Center in Atlanta published these disturbing retinal disease findings in the Journal of Ophthalmology in May 2018. The study was a small one, based on six women with retinal maculopathy. Given that the researchers had ruled out a genetic predisposition to the disease, the findings were startling. After all, who would have guessed that a medication to block bladder pain could actually cause serious damage to the eyes? But there was a clear link between Elmiron and eye problems.
After reviewing the findings from the Emory Eye Center, the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center asked 140 patients who had consistently taken Elmiron over a period of five years or more to come in for an eye exam. Of these 140 patients, 91 agreed to have their vision checked. Not only did 25% of those tested have significant retinal damage, but these patients also reported issues like difficulty reading, experiencing dark spots within their field of vision, seeing less vivid colors, and having difficulty adapting to dim lighting. The exams demonstrated that after taking Elmiron, eye disease was rampant among these individuals.
Ninety percent of IC sufferers are women, with the average onset of the condition occurring after the age of 40. As a result, many had assumed that these vision problems were merely part of growing older. None thought to attribute their vision difficulties to a prescription for bladder pain until an online patient support community known as the IC Network exposed the link after conducting a survey about Elmiron eye disease among its members.
Founded in 1994 by IC patient Jill Osborne, the IC Network was formed as an advocacy group for the millions who suffer from chronic pelvic pain syndrome and IC. After a survey of the group’s members indicated that more than half experienced retinal disease, the IC Network petitioned the FDA for more stringent warnings on Elmiron. At the very least, the IC Network recommends that IC patients taking the drug should be regularly monitored by an ophthalmologist because for those who take Elmiron, blindness is not out of the question. The drug’s side effects must be taken seriously.
The medical community has yet to figure out how Elmiron harms the retina or why Elmiron eye damage continues even after patients cease taking the drug. If you have taken Elmiron in the past or are taking the drug now, a complete exam by an ophthalmologist is strongly advised. You should remain vigilant, however, because an all-clear from an ophthalmological exam today does not guarantee you will be free from eye damage further down the road.
Contact Parker Waichman to Learn More About Elmiron Lawsuits
If you wish to pursue an Elmiron lawsuit, Parker Waichman’s lawyers are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable team. You will not be charged for our services unless you get a settlement from your Elmiron lawsuit. Whether or not you’re certain you qualify, contact us today and we’ll evaluate your case and determine the best course of action.
IC/PBS is a rare chronic debilitating urogenital disease characterized by urinary frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain. It is understood to be caused by a mix up with the pelvic nerve signal to the brain. One contributing factor to this condition is a defect of the epithelium layer of the bladder, and a leaking epithelium which allows toxic agents in urine to irritate the wall of the bladder. Other less than clear contributing factors include allergy, autoimmune reaction and infection – although the condition itself is not a bladder infection.
Patients experience pain in and pressure on the bladder, along with occasional pain in the lower back, lower abdomen, and pelvic region. The condition causes an urge to urinate, which results in a small volume of urine output. In extreme cases, IC/PBS can lead to patients needing to urinate 40 to 60 times a day. Pain experienced from this condition ranges from mild to severe. While there are therapies and medication for the treatment of symptoms related to IC/PBS, as of yet there is no cure.
Teresa Stack Hunter is a former journalist turned content writer with two decades of experience. Her career began as a journalist in Washington, D.C. where she interviewed politicians on Capitol Hill and foreign dignitaries on Embassy Row. Teresa also worked at the Department of Treasury, where she served as the writer-editor for Under Secretary of Enforcement Ronald K. Noble, and his equally impressive replacement Under Secretary of Enforcement Raymond W. Kelly. As a freelance writer, she writes for clients across many sectors and also ghostwrites for clients in finance.