Benicar Lawsuit Filed Over Hospitalization Following Chronic Diarrhea

A New Jersey woman is the latest in a growing number of individuals nationwide to file a product liability lawsuit claiming that side effects of Benicar caused them to suffer years of chronic diarrhea and other health problems, alleging that the manufacturers of the popular blood pressure drug withheld information about the risk.  

The complaint was filed last week in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Atlantic County by Christy Brooks, naming Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories as defendants.

Allegations raised by Brooks are similar to those brought in other Benicar lawsuits filed since the FDA first issued warnings last year about the link between use of the hypertension drug and a risk of a medical condition known as sprue-like enteropathy, which can result in chronic diarrhea, weight loss, colitis and other severe gastrointestinal problems.

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Benicar Lawsuits

Side Effects of Benicar May Cause Diarrhea, Villous Atrophy and Sprue-Like Enteropathy

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Prior to the warnings, many Benicar users had been suffering from these complications for years without realizing that the problems may be caused by the medication. In many cases, the Benicar problems were misdiagnosed as celiac disease or unclassified sprue, resulting in continued use of the medication, which could leave users with long-term intestinal damage.

Brooks indicates that she was prescribed Benicar in 2005. Following use of the medication, she indicates that she developed enteropathy, several forms of colitis, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, malnutrition and dehydration, which continued for several years. She underwent a number of unsuccessful treatments, which did not alleviate her problems.

Like many other doctors, Brooks indicates that her physician was unaware of the link between Benicar and diarrhea problems, which can surface months or even years after an individual starts using the medication.

Although Benicar has been on the market for more than a decade, the first reports suggesting a link between the medication and sprue-like enteropathy were not published until July 2012, when independent researchers from the Mayo Clinic identified a number of cases among patients treated at clinics nationwide.

In a report published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers outlined cases involving at least 22 patients from 17 different states who were treated for symptoms consistent with celiac disease while taking Benicar. While treatments for celiac disease were ineffective, the report found that once patients stopped taking their blood pressure medication, the symptoms usually resolved.

In July 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication on the issue, providing information to the medical community for the first time about the risk of sprue-like enteropathy from Benicar. The federal drug regulators indicated that they found clear evidence of a cause and effect relationship between the drug and the gastrointestinal problems, with issues often stopping when the medication was no longer used and resuming if the treatment restarts.

Although the diarrhea symptoms from Benicar typically resolve when the medication is no longer used, the problems can cause permanent damage to the intestines, known as villous atrophy. This involves the deterioration or decay of the villa in the intestinal tract, which may prevent the absorption of nutrients and reduce digestive capabilities. Left untreated, villous atrophy may result in dehydration, malnutrition, a weakened ability to fight off other illness and electrolyte problems.

Like other complaints filed in recent months, Brooks accuses Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories of failing to warn patients and the medical community about these potential Benicar side effects, alleging that the drug makers were more interested in profit than ensuring their drugs were safe.

“The U.S. market for hypertension treatment is massive. Approximately 73 million people in the United States age 20 and older have hypertension, about 61 percent of which (or 45 million) are under treatment,” the lawsuit notes. “Daiichi Sankyo and Forest distributed marketing materials to physicians and other consumers claiming that its olmesartan products were superior, more effective, and safer than other antihypertensive drug products available.”

The lawsuit presents claims against the manufacturers for designing a defective product, failure to warn, strict liability, gross negligence, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of warranty, violating consumer protection laws and other charges. the lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.


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