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Nearly 2,000 Benicar lawsuits have been filed in the federal court system against Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, alleging that the drug makers failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about the risk of chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems that may be caused by the popular blood pressure drug.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in the cases, complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide over the side effects of Benicar are currently consolidated as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in the District of New Jersey.
According to a docket update (PDF) issued this week, there are now at least 1,942 cases pending in the Benicar MDL, with additional cases continuing to be added each month as new lawsuits are filed.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the drug makers knew or should have known about the link between Benicar and diarrhea for years before information was added to the warning label.
These gastrointestinal problems from Benicar may surface months, or even years, after first use of the drug. Therefore, many doctors did not take their patients off of the drug when symptoms appeared, increasing the risk of permanent intestinal damage, known as villous atrophy.
The Benicar litigation emerged after the FDA required the drug makers to update the warnings in July 2013, indicating for the first time that the there was clear evidence the drug may cause severe diarrhea problems.
As part of the coordinated litigation before Judge Kugler, the parties have been preparing a small group of Benicar bellwether cases for early trial dates, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.
While the outcomes of these trials are not binding on other cases, the process is likely to heavily influence potential Benicar settlements, which would avoid the need to for several thousand individual claims to go before separate juries nationwide.