Federal Judge Blocked National Class Action for Elmiron

A federal judge blocked a national class action for Elmiron, but multidistrict litigation will proceed.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania recently blocked a national class action lawsuit for Elmiron. Elmiron is a prescription drug used to treat interstitial cystitis (IC). The class action in question is atypical. It sought to create a class of plaintiffs with potential injuries. Most class actions create a class of plaintiffs with specific, present injuries.

Elmiron is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat interstitial cystitis (IC). IC is a painful bladder condition with no known cure.

The drug has recently been linked to an irreversible form of eye damage. As a result, Elmiron users have begun seeking legal recourse for eye damage and potential eye injuries.

Most known Elmiron lawsuits seek legal damages for some form of macular injury. However, some plaintiffs have petitioned for legal damages associated with medical monitoring for potential eye damage. The proposed class action suits fall into the latter category.

Proposed Class Action Did Not Meet Legal Requirements

Class action lawsuits are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. According to these laws, plaintiffs must be able to form a certified class to file a class action lawsuit.

Plaintiffs must meet the following requirements to form a certified class:

  • There must be enough plaintiffs to make it impractical to try each case individually.
  • Each plaintiff must argue questions of law common to the other plaintiffs.
  • The representative plaintiffs must make claims similar to the other plaintiffs.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone presided over the proposed national Elmiron class action. Beetlestone noted the ability to file a lawsuit for future medical monitoring varies by state. As such, plaintiffs cannot make common legal claims nationwide.

Thus, Judge Beetlestone blocked formation of the proposed nationwide Elmiron class. This does not prevent plaintiffs from making a different nationwide Elmiron class later. The decision pertains only to Elmiron plaintiffs seeking compensation for future medical costs.

It may still be possible for plaintiffs to form a class action for existing eye injuries. In other words, they may be able to form a class of plaintiffs who currently have eye damage. This differs from the class denied by Beetlestone, in which the plaintiffs claimed the potential for future injuries.

Individual Elmiron Lawsuits Consolidated Via Multidistrict Litigation

Some people have filed lawsuits due to eye injuries sustained while using Elmiron. These lawsuits are not affected by Judge Beetlestone's decision. In fact, such cases were recently consolidated through the multidistrict litigation (MDL) process.

In December 2020, more than 60 Elmiron lawsuits were consolidated into MDL 2973. The MDL process differs from that of class action lawsuits. With an MDL, each case is tried individually, but common issues of fact and law can be addressed simultaneously.

The MDL trial process kicks off with early cases called bellwether trials. These cases are typically seen as indicators of future cases. If bellwether trials end in verdicts favoring plaintiffs, it may indicate high settlement potential for the remaining cases. If these early trials favor the defendants, it may lead to the dismissal or withdrawal of the remaining cases.

Since the Elmiron MDL was formed just a few weeks ago, bellwethers have not yet been scheduled. It may be several months or more before we have any idea when these cases will go to trial. In the meantime, our team will monitor these cases and post any new developments here in the news section.

Authored by Katy Moncivais, Ph.D.Medical Editor
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Katy Moncivais holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. She’s an experienced Regenerative Medicine Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & healthcare industry. Skilled in adult stem cells, medical devices, biomechanics, bacterial and mammalian cell culture, and regenerative medicine, she provides guidance on an array of topics affecting consumers. In her role at ConsumerSafety.org, Dr. Moncivais works alongside the writing and research staff to help deliver fact-based news stories to consumers. Her unique professional history alongside her rigorous educational background allows her to contribute to a variety of consumer-focused topics with a fresh perspective. In addition, Dr. Moncivais reviews portions of medically driven content to ensure scientific accuracy.
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