Benicar Injury Risk May Greatly Increase After First Year: Study
As a growing number of Benicar injury lawsuits continue to be filed on behalf of users of the blood pressure drug were hospitalized with chronic diarrhea or other symptoms of a medical condition known as sprue-like enteropathy, a recent study highlights how these problems may be more likely to develop the longer Benicar is used.
More details have recently been obtained about an as-yet unpublished French study, which was originally presented at the Digestive Disease Week convention in Chicago several weeks ago.
According to an abstract of the large-scale research, which involved a review of data on more than 4.5 million patients, it appears that Benicar users may be 10 times more likely to be hospitalized for gastrointestinal problems following two years of using the medication.
For years, many doctors have been unaware that side effects of Benicar may be the cause of chronic diarrhea, weight loss and other gastrointestinal problems suffered by patients. Since the problems may develop long after users start taking the drug, the link between Benicar and diarrhea problems has gone undiagnosed for many patients, resulting in repeated hospitalizations and permanent intestinal damage.
In July 2013, the FDA issued the first warnings about the risk of users developing sprue-like enteropathy from Benicar, stressing the importance of doctors recognizing that the symptoms may develop long after first use of the medication.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Paris and the French Health Insurance Fund evaluated data between 2007 and 2012, including more than 9 million patient-years of research. During the first year of use, Benicar was actually associated with slightly lower rates of hospitalization for gastrointestinal problems. However, after a year the risk more than tripled, and the risk of problems on Benicar rose even further following two years.
The risk of hospitalization for severe intestinal malabsorption, which involves an inability of the body to absorb nourishment from food, was 9.53 times higher among users of Benicar following two years using the drug.
Benicar Injury Lawsuits
Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is a widely-used blood pressure drug that was first approved by the FDA in 2002. It is distributed by Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories in the U.S., and other versions of the medication are sold under the brand names Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor.
Although the diarrhea symptoms associated with Benicar typically resolve when the medication is no longer used, many patients are left with permanent gastrointestinal damage as a result of the long-term problems. Known as villous atrophy, users may experience a deterioration or decay of the villa in the intestinal tract, which prevents the absorption of nutrients and reduces digestive capabilities, resulting in chronic dehydration, malnutrition, a weakened ability to fight off other illness and electrolyte problems.
Prior to the FDA warnings last year, in many cases users of Benicar were incorrectly diagnosed with celiac disease or unclassified sprue. However, these users continued to experience symptoms despite changes in their diet and other treatments recommended, because the connection between the injury and Benicar was not known.
Since the medical community has begun to learn about the link, the Celiac Disease Center has suggested that Benicar may have been responsible for 22% of all cases of previously unclassified sprue.
In a report published earlier this year in the medical journal Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine, researchers from the Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center highlighted how recognition of the link between Benicar and enteropathy may explain a good proportion of cases previously considered unclassified sprue.
Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories now face a growing number of Benicar lawsuits being filed on behalf of individuals nationwide who have experienced gastrointestinal injuries. All of the complaints involve similar allegations that the drug makers knew or should have known about the potential risk, yet withheld warnings and information from consumers and the medical community.
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