Benicar Problems Similar to Celiac Disease Can Be Life-Threatening: Study

As a growing number of Benicar lawsuits are being filed by individuals who have experienced chronic diarrhea and other symptoms mimicking celiac disease, a new study concludes that there is strong evidence supporting the association between the blood pressure medication and sprue-like enteropathy, and researchers are urging doctors to be aware that these problems may be life-threatening.

Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is a widely used blood pressure medication approved by the FDA in 2002, which is distributed in the U.S. by Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories.

Although the medication has been on the market for more than 10 years, it has only recently been disclosed that side effects of Benicar may cause users to suffer long-term diarrhea, weight loss and other problems that are often misdiagnosed as celiac disease.

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


Although the symptoms typically stop when the medication is no longer used, the diarrhea problems from Benicar often leave users with long term intestinal damage and can cause fatal injuries.

In a study published last month in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice researchers reviewed the growing evidence that between use of Benicar and celiac disease-like symptoms. Researchers from Wegman’s School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College in New York concluded that there is an association, indicating that further research is warranted.

Researchers looked at data from various previous studies from 1965 to November 2013, as well as information from the FDA.

“There is growing evidence supporting the association between olmesartan and sprue-like symptoms, however, further research is warranted,” the study concludes. “These symptoms can be life threatening and clinicians should be aware of the potential association.”

Among data evaluated by the researchers were 22 cases where patients who appeared to have Celiac disease improved after being taken off Benicar. The researchers also reviewed data on patients with seronegative villous atrophy from the Celiac Disease Center. The Center recently determined that Benicar was linked to 22% of cases of previously unclassified sprue.

Concerns about these potential Benicar problems were first raised in an independent study published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings in July 2012, which highlighted 22 cases of Benicar resulting in celiac disease symptoms, where the diarrhea and other problems resolved after the medication was no longer used.

In July 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication informing consumers and the medical community for the first time about the link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy, warning doctors to be aware that users may develop symptoms of chronic diarrhea months or even years after Benicar treatment is started.

The FDA indicated at that time that the association was strong, since the symptoms typically resolved when Benicar was no longer used, and returned when the medication was restarted. However, even if users discontinue the drug, they may be left withpermanent intestinal damage, known as villous atrophy, where the microscopic tentacles that line the wall of the small intestine erode.

Villous atrophy from Benicar can leave former users with reduced digestive capabilities, malnourishment and dehydration. In severe cases, this may ultimately result in death.

As more patients learn about the connection between Benicar and diarrhea problems they have been experiencing for years, the number of product liability lawsuits filed in courts throughout the U.S. has continued to mount. The complaints accuse Daiichi Sankyo, the manufacturer, and Forest Laboratories, which distributes the drug in the U.S., of failing to provide adequate warnings about the risk of these Benicar problems.

Most of the litigation is currently pending in New Jersey state court, which is the U.S. headquarters for the drug maker Daiichi Sankyo. As Benicar injury lawyers continue to review potential cases for users throughout the country, some estimates suggest that hundreds, or even thousands, of lawsuits may ultimately be included in the litigation.


  • osmanMay 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

    The FDA indicated at that time that the association was strong, since the symptoms typically resolved when Benicar was no longer used, and returned when the medication was restarted

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