A group of patients and Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical unit told the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that suits alleging that it concealed a harmful side effect of bladder cyst medicine Elmiron should be heard in New Jersey federal court because the judge there has already been treating the litigation as a mass tort.

Michael London of Douglas London PC said that from day one, U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti has treated the cases as a mass tort: Instead of setting individual trials and discovery plans, he implemented procedures and processes to advance the suits as a whole. The parties agreed that the suits alleging Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. of failing to warn consumers that Elmiron can cause serious eye damage should be consolidated, at issue in the hearing was where.

“Judge Martinotti has had monthly status conferences almost every three weeks, he’s become very Zoom friendly, almost too much,” London said. “Judge Martinotti clearly fits this bill.”

Another factor in favor of New Jersey is that it is where Janssen is headquartered and where all the witnesses and documents are, a representative for Janssen said.

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

Janssen began taking steps last year 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.

But it was only a few months ago, after the U.S suits were filed, that the company revised Elmiron’s U.S. label, the patients say.

 

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