Motion Filed to Centralize Benicar Litigation in Federal Court
A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, seeking to consolidate all Benicar injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, indicating that the claims should be centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
There are currently at least 15 different product liability lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, which all involve allegations that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories failed to adequately warn users of their popular blood pressure drugs about the risk of chronic diarrhea and sprue-like enteropathy that may be caused by side effects of Benicar.
In a motion to transfer (PDF) filed on December 18, plaintiff Annette Johnson is calling for a creation of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for the Benicar cases to prevent duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid contradictory pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, parties and the court.
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In addition to cases pending in the federal court system, there are also at least 30 similar complaints filed in New Jersey state court, where the Benicar litigation has been centralized in Atlantic County.
As Benicar injury lawyers continue to review and file cases for former uses of the hypertension drug who have been suffering debilitating diarrhea, weight loss and other gastrointestinal problems for years, it is widely expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of cases will ultimately be filed in courts throughout the United States.
“Centralization will conserve financial resources of the courts as one federal judge, rather than many federal judges will resolve issues related to discovery, expert witnesses, and other common issues between the cases,” according to the motion filed with the U.S. JPML. “Finally, centralization of the federal cases will make it easier for the New Jersey state court judge (and potentially future state court judges) to coordinate with one federal judge, as opposed to attempting to coordinate with multiple federal judges across the country.”
Johnson’s request seeks to transfer all Benicar lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system to U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in the Northern District of Ohio, where at least nine of the cases are currently pending.
The U.S. JPML is expected to schedule oral arguments on the motion at an upcoming hearing set for either January 29 in Miami, Florida or March 26 in San Diego, California.
Benicar Sprue-Like Enteropathy Risks
The Benicar injury litigation has arisen since the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories to update the drug warning label in July 2013, indicating for the first time that users of the blood pressure drug may face an increased risk of sprue-like enteropathy. This may cause users to suffer chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and other symptoms, which may surface months or even years after the medication is started.
Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is part of a family of Daiichi Sankyo hypertension drugs, which also includes Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor. All of the blood pressure drugs include the active ingredient olmesartan, which has been linked to the development sprue-like enteropathy.
Although the medication has been on the market for more than 10 years, information about the link between Benicar and diarrhea problems were not recognized within the medical community until the FDA warnings, resulting in many former users experiencing complications from the medication for years.
In many cases, users have repeatedly been hospitalizations because 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.
Although the diarrhea symptoms associated with sprue-like enteropathy typically resolve when the medication is no longer used, the problems can cause permanent damage to the intestines, known as villous atrophy from Benicar.
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