Benicar, marketed as Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor, Tribenzor, and in the generic form as olmesartan medoxomil, is a commonly prescribed drug used to treat hypertension or high blood pressure. This drug is now the subject of a new FDA investigation into its role in producing sprue-like enteropathy.
Sprue-like enteropathy is a disorder which mimics the symptoms of celiac disease such as chronic diarrhea, substantial weight loss, vomiting, dehydration and related cardiovascular problems. That sounds, on some level, like not a huge deal. So let's be more clear: this condition is very serious and can cause serious injury and death.Miller & Zois is currently reviewing Benicar injury and wrongful death cases. If you or someone you love was injured by Benicar, you may be eligible to compensation. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.Celiac Disease and Benicar Induced Enteropathy
The difference between celiac disease and Benicar induced sprue-like enteropathy is that patients with celiac disease can largely control their symptoms by eliminating gluten from their diet. Patients with Benicar induced sprue-like enteropathy will see no improvement from a gluten-free diet. Their symptoms will only subside if the drug is completely discontinued.Symptoms of Enteropathy from Benicar
The symptoms are:
- Weight loss
- Enlarged gallbladder
- Cardiovascular problems
- Elevated white-blood-cell count
- Colon perforation
The last one on that list, colon perforation, is the latest concern. Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine published a study this year that raised a lot of eyebrows. A woman had severe sprue-like enteropathy and went to the emergency room complaining of severe abdominal pain and nausea. She had a cardiac arrest and was found to have a colon perforation. Thankfully, she did not need surgery and her symptoms resolved. Her doctor first step to healing her? It was getting her off Benicar.
Is this a big deal? Time will tell.Studies on Benicar
Even prior to the FDA warning about Benicar’s side effects, these effects had been documented by those in the medical community. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota reported that a study of 22 patients on Benicar who were hospitalized with celiac disease-like symptoms showed that they were unable to control those symptoms with a gluten-free diet. Suspecting a direct link between Benicar and the abdominal symptoms, the clinic asked the patients to fully discontinue their use of the drug.
The big question is what happened to these patients after they stopped taking the drug? After all, maybe their sprue-like enteropathy was from something other than Benicar. Well, the patients’ symptoms improved dramatically, including an average reported weight gain of 27 pounds! This tell us something, doesn't it? In fact, that is part of how the problem was solved. People going off Benicar and seeing the symptoms resolve only to go back on it again and they return. The big question: why couldn't they figure this out during the clinical trial of the drug?
Since the results from the Mayo Clinic were released, an additional 40 cases of Benicar induced sprue-like enteropathy have been reported. That number should increase as patients and doctors become aware of Benicar’s potentially severe abdominal effects.
This has all led the FDA last year on July 4, 2013, to issue a warning stating the obvious: sprue-like enteropathy. According to the FDA warning, symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss. The FDA approved changes to the labels of Benicar to include this concern. This is now on the drug's label. It should have been there a lot sooner than it was. Clearly, doctors need to know Benicar can be a cause of this severe diarrhea and the injuries that ensue.
A new 2014 study sheds further light. The Journal of Pharmacy Practice took a look at the mounting evidence linking the use of Benicar and symptoms similar to celiac disease. These symptoms include unexplained chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and enteropathy. The study included data used for prior studies from 1965 through November 2013, as well as information obtained from the FDA. Researchers additionally evaluated data from 22 cases where patients with Celiac disease like symptoms improved after being taken off Benicar (Olmesartan).
The study confirmed what other studies before it did, “There is growing evidence supporting the association between olmesartan and sprue-like symptoms…” adding however, “further research is warranted.” Sure, you could always use further evidence. But how much more do you need to conclude that the the overwhelming likelihood is that there is a connection?What is the Settlement Value of Benicar Lawsuits?
Now we enter the world of pure speculation. These cases are just now getting off the ground. Plaintiffs' lawyers have not even sought an MDL class action yet because there are not enough cases to warrant a consolidated action. But the smart money says that this will change quickly given that these injuries do not appear to be all that uncommon.
You can expect the settlement range of these cases to vary more wildly then most mass tort claims because the injuries are going to range from very small cases where the award might be as little as a few thousand dollars and a death or permanent injury case where a settlement could be in the millions. This is true in any mass tort settlement because the injuries always vary. But it hold particular force in these Benicar lawsuits.Do you Have a Benicar Claim?
If you are currently on Benicar and have experienced celiac disease-like symptoms, you should see your prescribing doctor right away and ask if discontinuing use of the medication is the right option for you. You should also contact a lawyer to see if you have a claim. Since the company that manufactures Benicar never warned patients or doctors that Benicar could induce these horrible abdominal symptoms, those who have been affected may have a claim against the drug company. That claim may be worth significant compensation depending on how severe the symptoms have become.
The Benicar lawsuits argue that the drug company Daiichi Sankyo failed to warn doctors and patients about the connection between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy. If they had, many of the suffering that has occurred would not have happened.Can Filing a Lawsuit Help Me?
If you have been afflicted by Benicar’s abdominal side effects, you should contact a team of attorneys who are experienced at handling complicated drug liability cases. Why? There could be compensation for your injuries.
The attorneys at Miller & Zois are experienced at handling complex medical malpractice and drug liability cases. We can help you decide if you have a claim and how to best pursue that claim to maximize the amount of money you will receive.
All Benicar claims involving Miller & Zois are reviewed under a risk-free contingency agreement, which means you only pay us if you we get money for you.
To get a free case evaluation today from the dedicated attorneys at Miller & Zois, please contact us immediately at 800-553-8082 or get a free case evaluation online.