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As a growing number of Benicar lawsuits continue to be filed by individuals who suffered debilitating symptoms of diarrhea after using the popular blood pressure medication, the New Jersey Supreme court has decided to centralize the litigation pending in that state before one judge.
Hundreds of complaints involving Benicar diarrhea symptoms have been filed nationwide against Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, alleging that the drug makers failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the side effects of medications containing olmesartan, which also includes Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor.
In a Notice to the Bar (PDF) issued on August 31, the acting administrative director of New Jersey courts announced the creation of a state court Benicar MCL, or multicounty litigation.
Given similar allegations of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the state, all cases will be transferred to Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson in Atlantic County for coordinated proceedings.
The move comes in response to a request to consolidate the New Jersey Benicar litigation that was filed by the drug makers on May 26. At that time, there were at least 59 cases pending throughout the New Jersey state court system, with additional lawsuits expected as lawyers continue to review and file new cases.
Similar centralized proceedings have been established in the federal court system, where more than 1,000 lawsuits over Benicar are currently pending in an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is centarlized before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in the District of New Jersey.
Benicar Failure to Warn Lawsuits
Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is a blockbuster hypertension drug manufactured by Daiich Sankyo and Forest, which includes a family of medications used to control blood pressure.
The Benicar litigation has emerged since the FDA required the drug makers to provide new warnings in July 2013 about the link between Benicar and diarrhea symptoms, indicating for the first time that use of the drug may cause a medical condition known as sprue-like enteropathy. This may cause users to suffer chronic diarrhea, weight loss and other gastrointestinal problems that could emerge months or even years after first use of the medication.
As a result of the failure to warn, most plaintiffs claim that they continued to experience problems from Benicar over long periods of time, since doctors were unable to recognize the cause of their symptoms.
Although the Benicar diarrhea symptoms typically resolve when the medication is no longer used, the long-term complications can cause erosion of the interior of the intestines, known as villous atrophy from Benicar. This can leave former users with permanent food intolerances, malnutrition and other problems similar to Celiac disease.
As Benicar injury lawyers continue to review and filed cases for individuals who suffered chronic diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems after using an olmasartan based drug, it is ultimately expected that Daiich Sankyo and Forest Laboratories will face several thousand complaints throughout the country.
The coordinated pretrial proceedings in New Jersey state court and the federal court system are designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial orders and to increase judicial efficiency.
Following discovery and a set of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation, if the drug makers fail to reach Benicar settlements to resolve the diarrhea claims, they could face dozens of individual trials before different juries nationwide.