JPML To Hear Benicar Injury Lawsuit Consolidation Arguments March 26

Oral arguments over whether to consolidate and centralize all federal Benicar lawsuits will be heard by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on March 26, at a hearing in San Diego.

In late December, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all product liability lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide over side effects of Benicar.

All of the Benicar injury cases raise nearly identical allegations, claiming that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories failed to adequately warn users or the medical community that the popular blood pressure drug may cause chronic diarrhea, malnutrition and other symptoms associated with the development of sprue-like enteropathy.

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Benicar Lawsuits

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

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Given the common questions of fact and law raised in the claims, plaintiffs seek to have the cases centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery into the same issues raised in multiple cases, eliminate contradictory pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

In January, Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, which jointly manufacture and market Benicar and other related blood pressure drugs that contain olmesartan, indicated that they oppose consolidation of Benicar lawsuits, arguing that the cases are already in various different stages of litigation, and that centralization could hamper progress.

According to a notice of hearing session (PDF) issued by the U.S. JPML earlier this month, the panel will decide whether to establish a Benicar MDL following a hearing on March 26, at the James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep U.S. Courthouse in San Diego, California.

BenicarInjury Risks

The Benicar litigation has arisen since the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories to update the drug warning label in July 2013, providing information for the first time that users of the blood pressure drug may face an increased risk of sprue-like enteropathy.

The FDA warnings indicated that there is clear evidence that use of the medication 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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