Elmiron, an FDA-approved drug for interstitial cystitis (IC), a condition characterized by debilitating pain in the bladder and abnormal urinary frequency, has been the focus of at least 80 lawsuits. Plaintiffs who have filed claims against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, allege that the drug caused damage to their vision and eyes.
The lawsuits also allege that Janssen concealed the risk of serious eye damage as a side effect. On orders by a U.S. Judge to select a diverse group of attorneys for the Multi-District Litigation (MDL), Elmiron plaintiffs involved in the selecting the attorneys (the plaintiff steering committee) selected a majority of women. Out of 25 proposed attorneys to handle the Elmiron cases that are wrapped up in the MDL, 18 are women.
According to Law360.com, the fact that the steering committed is majority female is important because most of the plaintiffs in the MDL are expected to be women, due to the fact that IC disproportionately affects women.
In addition to gender, the proposed committee also reflects ethnic, racial and geographical diversity, per Law360.com. Lawyers who may represent Elmiron consumers in the MDL hail from New York, Louisiana, Alabama, and Puerto Rico.
Currently, 42 lawsuits will be involved in the MDL, which will be adjudicated in New Jersey. However, the MDL is expected to involve perhaps as high as several hundred more lawsuits.
Elmiron was approved by the FDA in 1996. Research studies that show a correlation between the drug’s usage and eye damage was first published only in 2018. However, the lawsuits claim that since 1997, Janssen received reports from doctors that their patients taking the drug were having vision problems caused by either retinal hemorrhage, macular degeneration and/or light perception blindness.
Prospective plaintiffs’ attorneys will also include a dozen who, if selected will be novices on steering committees. The committee also includes 11 attorneys who have been practicing for less than 10 years. The Judge overseeing the Elmiron MDL indicated he will allow more time for the more inexperienced attorneys to prepare arguments.
“I applaud Judge Martinotti’s repeated insistence on achieving his four diversity guideposts (gender, race, geography, and experience),” Anello said in a Thursday email. “I am also proud to be associated with a proposed PSC composed of 72% women. I look forward to working with each and every proposed member who will bring their own unique contributions to this MDL.”
The size of the proposed group of attorneys in the steering committee, reports Law360.com, is significantly larger than other MDLs. But the plaintiffs say the size is justified considering how long the drug has been on the market; the scope of discovery is both large and complex.