Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium (Elmiron)


Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron) is the only oral medicine that is FDA approved for treating the pain and discomfort of interstitial cystitis (IC). In double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials, 38 percent of patients treated with Elmiron for three months reported improvement of their IC symptoms. In open-label trials, 61 percent of patients reported improvement.

The patent for Elmiron expries in 2010. Ortho McNeil reports they will continue to make and sell Elmiron. Stay informed about updates from Ortho McNeil and successes by other companies to develop a generic alternative—sign up for the ICA eNews.


Elmiron is thought to work by restoring a damaged, thin, or “leaky” bladder surface. This surface (glycosaminoglycans, or GAG layer) is composed of a coating of mucus, which protects the bladder wall from bacteria and irritating substances in urine. It is believed that Elmiron functions as a synthetic GAG layer, but the drug’s mechanical action in IC is unknown.

Dosage & Treatment Plan

A usual dosage for IC patients is 100 mg. of Elmiron three times a day, for a total of 300 mg/day.

Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium (Elmiron) Some patients report symptom relieve in three to four weeks. For others, it may take up to six months to see improvement. Patients are urged to continue therapy for at least six months before discontinuing treatment. Pain subsides first, but a decrease in urinary frequency may take six to nine months. It may also be necessary to use other medicines, such as low-dose tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, etc., along with Elmiron.

Potential Side Effects

The side effects of Elmiron include minor gastrointestinal disturbances. Some patients have also experienced hair loss that is reversible upon discontinuing the drug. There are no reports that Elmiron has any negative interactions with any other medicines. In controlled trials, no adverse effect occurred more frequently with Elmiron than with placebos. Since Elmiron is metabolized by the liver, it is recommended that blood tests be performed periodically to test liver function.

Pregnancy & Children

Because studies have not been performed in pregnant women, the manufacturer recommends that the drug not be used in pregnancy. The safety and effectiveness of Elmiron use in children has not been established.

You can get more information on Elmiron by calling toll-free 888-ELMIRON or visiting Ortho McNeil or the Elmiron healthcare provider portal.

Revised June 01, 2011