Plaintiffs’ Leadership Attorneys Appointed in Benicar Litigation

As the organizational structure for all Benicar injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system continues to be established, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the cases has appointed a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership roles, charged with taking certain pretrial actions that will benefit all individuals who have filed a lawsuit over sprue-like enteropathy and villous atrophy injuries.

In April, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all product liability cases filed against Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories over the side effects of Benicar, which have been linked to reports of chronic and debilitating diarrhea, malnutrition and other gastrointestinal problems.

At least 45 different lawsuits filed in federal courts throughout the country have been transferred to U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in the District of New Jersey to coordinate discovery, avoid conflicting rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts. However, as Benicar attorneys continue to review and file additional cases over the coming months, it is ultimately expected that several hundred, if not thousands, of cases will be centralized in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

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Benicar Lawsuits

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


All of the cases involved in the federal Benicar litigation raise similar allegations, claiming that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community that popular blood pressure drug may cause users to develop sprue-like enteropathy, with symptoms appearing months or even years after first use of the medication. This has caused many users to experience severe and debilitating diarrhea, often resulting in repeated hospitalization and permanent gastrointestinal damage.

On May 20, after a joint status conference in the Benicar MDL, Judge Kugler issued an order (PDF) that creates a plaintiffs’ executive committee and plaintiffs’ steering committee.

The court approved a leadership plan (PDF) submitted by lawyers involved in the cases, which involved the appointment of two attorneys to serve as Co-Lead Counsel, five attorneys to make up a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and 16 attorneys to serve in roles on a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

These Benicar injury attorneys will take various actions throughout the coordinated pretrial proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs, such as conducting and coordinating discovery, speaking for plaintiffs at hearings and meetings before the court, as well as negotiating and entering potential stipulations or settlement agreements with the Defendants.

Benicar Lawsuit Allegations

Benicar is a hypertension drug that is part of a family of medications that all have the same pharmaceutical ingredient, olmesartan, including Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor. Each of the medications are manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo, and all have been linked to a potential risk of sprue-like enteropathy.

Although olmesartans have been on the market for more than a decade, the first warnings about the potential link between Benicar and diarrhea problems were not provided until July 2013, when the FDA required the drug maker to update the warning label to indicate that users may experience symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy months or even years after first use of the medication.

Based on adverse event data that has been available to the drug makers for years, FDA officials have recently concluded that there is “clear evidence” that Benicar may cause users to suffer chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and other gastrointestinal symptoms, which typically resolve when the medication is no longer used. However, after experiencing these problems over long-periods of time, users may face a risk of suffering villous atrophy from Benicar, which results in permanent gastrointestinal problems and reduced digestive capability, leading to chronic malnourishment and dehydration.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories knew or should have known about the link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy for years, yet placed their desire for profits before consumers safety by withholding the information.

As a result of the lack of warnings prior to July 2013, many users have repeatedly been hospitalized with severe diarrhea, as doctors were unaware that the symptoms may be caused by their blood pressure medication. The Benicar problems have often been misdiagnosed as Celiac disease or unclassified sprue, resulting in continued use of the medication, which could leave users with long-term intestinal damage.

Following coordinated discovery in the MDL, it is expected that Judge Kugler will schedule a series of early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

If the drug makers fail to reach Benicar settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation after the bellwether trials, hundreds of individual cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates to determine whether a failure to warn about the Benicar risks caused the plaintiff’s injury.


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