Status of Benicar Injury Lawsuits to be Reviewed at MDL Conference

As a growing number of Benicar lawsuits continue to be filed by individuals who suffered chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems after using the popular blood pressure drug, the evolving status of the litigation will be reviewed during a meeting this week with the federal judge presiding over the cases.

Since April, all complaints filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country involving side effects of Benicar have been consolidated as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

The cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in the District of New Jersey to coordinate discovery, avoid conflicting rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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Benicar Lawsuits

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

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All of the cases involved in the Benicar litigation raise similar allegations, claiming that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community that popular blood pressure drug may cause users to develop symptoms of a condition known as sprue-like enteropathy, which may surface months or even years after first use of the medication.

Sprue-like enteropathy may cause users to suffer severe and debilitating diarrhea, often resulting in repeated hospitalization and potentially permanent gastrointestinal damage.

Attorneys involved in the Benicar injury lawsuits are scheduled to meet with Judge Kugler for a status conference on Tuesday.

According to a joint agenda (PDF) submitted by the parties, it is expected that the Court will review the status of the litigation, including the recent filing of a Master Complaint, the format for an initial exchange of information between the parties and coordination of the federal cases with complaints filed at the state court level.

At the time the Benicar MDL was established, there were about 45 complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide. The latest update (PDF) provided by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) indicates that there are now at least 70 cases pending before Judge Kugler.

The status conference in the federal MDL comes only weeks after the drug makers asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to centralize a number of Benicar lawsuits at the state court level as well. Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories indicated in an application filed earlier this month that are at least 59 other cases currently pending in New Jersey state court.

As Benicar injury lawyers continue to review and file cases over the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that several hundred, if not thousands, of complaints will be included in the MDL.

Benicar Lawsuit Allegations

Benicar is part of a family of hypertension medications that all have the same pharmaceutical ingredient, olmesartan. Other related drugs include Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor, each of which are manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo, and all have been linked to a potential risk of sprue-like enteropathy.

All of the lawsuits stem from a warning label update issued in July 2013, at which time the FDA required the drug makers to provide information about a link between sprue-like enteropathy injuries and Benicar, indicating that users may experience symptoms months or even years after first use of the medication.

Based on adverse event data that has been available to the drug makers for years, FDA officials concluded that there is “clear evidence” that Benicar may cause users to suffer chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and other gastrointestinal symptoms, which typically resolve when the medication is no longer used. However, after experiencing these problems over long-periods of time, users may face a risk of suffering villous atrophy from Benicar, which results in permanent gastrointestinal problems and reduced digestive capability, leading to chronic malnourishment and dehydration.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories knew or should have known about the link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy for years, yet placed their desire for profits before consumers safety by withholding the information.

Following coordinated discovery in the Benicar MDL, it is expected that Judge Kugler will schedule a series of early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

If the drug makers fail to reach Benicar settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation after the bellwether trials, hundreds of individual cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates to determine whether a failure to warn about the Benicar risks caused the plaintiff’s injury.

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