Benicar is the brand name for olmesartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) for the treatment of high blood pressure. The drug was first approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002. It can be used alone or in combination with other antihypertensive medications.
Recent research has found that there is a strong link between Benicar and negative side effects, including serious and severe gastrointestinal problems that are similar in nature to celiac disease. One Benicar side effect identified is intestinal damage, which can cause symptoms including chronic diarrhea, malnourishment and severe weight loss requiring hospitalization. Although it is one of eight marketed ARB drugs, Benicar is the only one found to be associated with these symptoms.
A connection between Benicar and the condition known as sprue-like enteropathy was first reported by the Mayo Clinic in 2012. From 2008-2010, researchers noted that 22 patients were suffering from the symptoms suggesting celiac disease; however, blood testing did not support such a diagnosis. These patients were, on average, 69 years old and suffered from chronic diarrheal illness for an average of 19 months. After they discontinued using Benicar, the patients gained an average of 27 pounds and the diarrheal symptoms ceased. Following the Mayo Clinic report, the American College of Gastroenterology noted a link between the drug and 40 additional cases of sprue-like enteropathy.
In 2013, the FDA ordered the manufacturer of Benicar, Daiichi-Sankyo, to add a warning to the prescribing information about the risk of a possible Benicar side effect of sprue-like enteropathy. The FDA’s decision to add the warning came after an evaluation of its Adverse Event Reporting System, published medical literature and information from the Medicare database. An FDA statement reported that the agency’s evaluation “found clear evidence of an association between olmesartan and sprue-like enteropathy.”
Some patients taking Benicar have also suffered from a condition called villous atrophy, which is a disorder that causes the lining of the intestines to lose their texture, making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. The resulting malnourishment can lead to additional digestive problems that can be ongoing in nature even after the patient stops using Benicar.
Benicar Litigation & Trial Update
Lawsuits against Daiichi-Sankyo were first filed in 2014.
In April 2015, after a number of federal cases were filed, the litigation was centralized by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation into a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) in federal court in New Jersey before the Honorable Robert Kugler. Shortly after centralization was ordered, nearly 40 cases were consolidated before Judge Kugler for coordinated pre-trial discovery purposes. Future Benicar cases that are filed in or removed to federal court will be transferred to the MDL for discovery and other proceedings.
If you or a loved one used Benicar and suffered sprue-like enteropathy, chronic diarrhea, malnourishment or severe weight loss requiring hospitalization, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against the manufacturers for damages. For a free and confidential case evaluation, please call our office toll-free at (888) 747-5342 or complete our online contact form and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.