A federal judge has taken steps to organize multidistrict litigation (MDL) as The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) sent suits to a New Jersey federal court involving Elmiron, a drug produced by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. An FDA-approved drug specifically used to treat the condition interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that taking Elmiron caused them to develop a specific type of damage to the retinas that can result in serious harm to the eyes, including blindness.
Law360.com reports that the judge that will preside over the Elmiron MDL in New Jersey will be U.S. Judge Brian R. Martinotti. The JPML describes Martinotti, per Law360.com as “well-versed in the subtleties of complex, multidistrict litigation and that they’re certain he’ll set the litigation on a prudent course.”
Both plaintiffs and J&J argued earlier this month in a teleconference that the Elmiron lawsuits should be assigned to Judge Martinotti “since he has already implemented procedures and processes to advance the suits as a whole.”
The JPML order currently encompasses 42 suits to New Jersey. However, the MDL is forecast to include several hundred suits.
Plaintiffs claim that as early as 1997 Janssen was aware of anecdotal evidence from received reports from doctors, describing how their patients who took Elmiron were experiencing vision problems such as macular degeneration.
More recently, published, peer-reviewed studies by the Candian Urological Association, Kaiser Permanente, and the Emory Eye Center have demonstrated an association between Elmiron and eye damage.
In 2019, Janssen began warning consumers and doctors about Elmiron-associated vision and eye damage. However, those warnings were not issued in the United States. It wasn’t until July of this year—after the first U.S. lawsuits were filed—that Janssen added the eyesight damage to Elmiron’s product insert.