The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) sent suits alleging Johnson and Johnson’s pharmaceutical unit concealed a harmful side effect of bladder cyst medicine that results in serious eye damage to New Jersey federal court, where a judge has already taken steps to organize the litigation.

The panel’s order sends 42 suits to New Jersey and the litigation is expected to increase to several hundred suits.

The patients took Elmiron to treat interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, according to one of the lawsuits. They claim that since 1997 Janssen has received reports from doctors about Elmiron patients having visual complications such as retinal hemorrhage, macular degeneration and light perception.

Janssen last year began taking steps to warn consumers and physicians in other countries about Elmiron’s risk of serious visual complications, such as adding a warning to the medicine’s label in Canada, according to the lawsuit.

Janssen has said that “nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients who take our medicines and we are confident in the overall safety profile of Elmiron.”

“As the MDL process moves forward, we will continue to defend against the allegations made in these lawsuits. Elmiron is the only FDA-approved oral prescription medicine that has been helping patients with bladder pain or discomfort associated with interstitial cystitis for more than two decades,” the company said.

 

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