Benicar and Benicar HTC, high blood pressure medications manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., have been linked to several serious health issues. Many patients taking the drugs have reported severe complications, including chronic diarrhea, , damage to the intestines and malnourishment that was so pronounced they needed to be hospitalized. The national law firm of Baron & Budd may be able to help if you took this drug and suffered harm as a result. Contact us online or call us at 866-520-2755 to learn more.
How the Drug Works
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Benicar as a high blood pressure treatment in 2002. Approximately 11 million prescriptions for the drug are written each year by doctors.
Benicar and other drugs in its class, such as Benicar HTC, Azor, and Tribenzor, contain the active ingredient olmesartan medoxomil which works by keeping the body’s blood vessels open, or dilated, aiding the lowering of blood pressure as a result. Benicar can either be used in conjunction with other drugs or it can stand alone as an option for treating blood pressure. Olmesartan is part of a grouping of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs, and is designed to inhibit angiotensin II. Angiostensin II is a protein that is supposed to help control blood pressure, but can actually raise it to potentially dangerous levels in many people.
Angiotensin II can narrow the blood vessels, making it more difficult for the heart to properly pump blood. It can also increase the amount of sodium in the body, which is another contributing factor to high blood pressure. Olmesartan blocks the protein and helps blood flow more easily through the vessels.
Benicar Severe Side Effects
While Benicar has proven to be an extremely popular medication, it has also been linked to severe side effects. Many patients have experienced symptoms that mimic Celiac disease, such as substantial gastrointestinal pain, unexplained and significant weight loss, and many others. Celiac disease is a condition that typically results from an allergy to wheat protein in grains.
However, when these symptoms are present in patients taking Benicar, those patients are usually later diagnosed with conditions known as sprue-like enteropathy and villous atrophy. According to the FDA, it can take months or even years for people taking drugs such as Benicar that contain olmesartan to develop the condition. In 2013, the FDA mandated that the warning label of Benicar be changed to reflect this possibility.
Other health complications that patients have reported after taking Benicar, Benicar HTC, Azor, or Tribenzor include:
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Kidney failure
- Liver problems
- Loss of hair
- Rapid swelling of the skin (angioedema)
Benicar and the FDA
In 2012, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a link between olmesartan medoxomil and gastrointestinal issues. The clinic had treated 22 patients between 2008 and 2011 who were exhibiting symptoms close to those of Celiac disease. The common threads were that all the patients had been taking Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor, and Tribenzor, and all of their tests for Celiac disease came back negative.
Once they discontinued olmesartan medoxomil, all of the patients experienced relief from their symptoms. As a result, Mayo Clinic staff members concluded that the patients’ gastrointestinal issues stemmed from their use of the drug. The researchers did not find any other drug in the ARB class that caused the same symptoms. In July 2013, the FDA mandated the warning label change mentioned earlier.
How Baron & Budd Can Help
People who have suffered side effects after taking Benicar have filed lawsuits against Daiichi Sankyo. The pharmaceutical giant spent an estimated $1 billion marketing the drug, claiming it was safe, effective and superior to other, similar drugs.
But, again, no other drug in the ARB class has been linked to sprue-like enteropathy and its severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Some patients suffered weight loss and dehydration that were so severe they had to be hospitalized. In many cases, this was after they had to go to several doctors in an effort to obtain a proper diagnosis. By filing a lawsuit, these people may be able to get compensation for their medical expenses as well as other damages they may have incurred.
Plaintiffs in lawsuits against Daiichi Sankyo have made several claims. For example, they allege Daiichi Sankyo failed in its responsibility to perform the proper research and testing necessary before bringing Benicar to the public. As a result, the company put patients at risk by not providing the proper warnings before making a dangerous, defective drug available to consumers. Plaintiffs are also claiming that the drug maker improperly marketed Benicar as safe and effective in television advertising as well as in product packages and other literature.