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Chaffin Luhana LLP
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On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered all federally filed Elmiron lawsuits to be consolidated in the District of New Jersey. The Honorable Brian R. Martinotti was appointed to oversee the proceedings.

JPML Agrees that Consolidation Is Appropriate for Elmiron Lawsuits

Both the plaintiffs and the defendants agreed that consolidation would be prudent. The plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate back in September 2020, stating that it would be the most appropriate and efficient course of action because it would:

  1. Promote the just and efficient conduct of the actions
  2. Prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and duplicative discovery
  3. Conserve the researches of the judiciary, the parties, and their counsel

This group of plaintiffs requested the District of New Jersey as the best location, under the guidance of Judge Martinotti. Other responding plaintiffs agreed with consolidation but suggested alternative locations, including the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Southern District of Florida, and the Southern District of Ohio.

The defendants filed their response to the motion in mid-October 2020, stating they did not oppose the idea of consolidation, and further did not oppose the suggested location of the District of New Jersey. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Elmiron’s current manufacturer and the only defendant common to all the cases, has its principal place of business in Titusville, New Jersey. The majority of the potential trial witnesses would be located there as well.

In the transfer order, the panel noted that after considering all arguments, “we find that centralization of these actions in the District of New Jersey will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”

The panel found that the cases all involved common issues of fact concerning the propensity of Elmiron to cause retinal injuries, specifically pigmentary maculopathy. They also agreed that the District of New Jersey was appropriate because several defendants are based there, and relevant witnesses and documents will likely be found there.

Janssen Waits Until June 2020 to Update Elmiron Warnings

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) came onto the market in 1996 as the first drug FDA-approved to treat interstitial cystitis (IC), a painful bladder condition that has no cure. The drug helps to eliminate symptoms like painful bladder, pelvic pain, and the frequent urge to urinate. It must be taken continuously to provide relief.

For years Elmiron manufacturers enjoyed high profits from a successful drug with little competition. Then in 2018, doctors from the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, Georgia, wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Urology alerting readers to a new condition they were seeing among their patients taking Elmiron. Specifically, they had observed unhealthy vision changes in six patients who had been using Elmiron for several years.

Additional research revealed that patients taking Elmiron for five years or more appeared to have an increased risk of a unique type of eye damage called pigmentary maculopathy, which causes symptoms like blurry vision and difficulty seeing in dim light. It wasn’t until June 2020, however, that Janssen Pharmaceuticals finally added a new warning to the product label to alert patients and doctors to the risk.

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