Wilmington Benicar Lawsuit Attorneys
Benicar is a drug sometimes given to people suffering from high blood pressure. Advertised as a highly effective medication, Benicar is now known to be responsible for severe side effects like chronic diarrhea, extreme malnourishment, significant weight loss, intestinal damage, and more, which can lead to hospitalization or permanent disability of its users. People who have suffered such side effects may be compensated for their pain and physical damages by seeking justice in a court of law. The Wilmington personal injury attorneys at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. is reviewing claims on behalf of patients who used Benicar (also known as olmesartan medoxomil). We and other firms have been filing lawsuits in which plaintiffs allege that the manufacturer should be held liable for the medical issues they developed after taking Benicar.
From 2002 to 2008, heavy marketing of Benicar by manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo was used to promote it as a more effective alternative to other drugs in the same treatment class. The marketing guaranteed the safety of Benicar to consumers. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued warnings that the use of Benicar can result in severe gastrointestinal complications for its users. Research done by the FDA showed that unlike other drugs in the same class, only Benicar has been found to cause "sprue-like enteropathy," which is normally characterized by significant weight loss, severe diarrhea, intestinal damage, and malnourishment.
Benicar was approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure). According to reports from the FDA, about 67 million Americans deal with hypertension and many of these people use drugs to treat it. Lowering blood pressure is vital as it helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems.
Benicar is one of eight drugs in a class of medications known as angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB). It is sometimes prescribed alongside other blood pressure medications. Benicar is manufactured by Japanese company Daiichi Sankyo and marketed as Benicar, Azor, Tribenzor, Benicar HCT, and generic olmesartan medoxomil. In the first six years that Benicar was on the market, approximately 1 billion dollars were spent on marketing the drug. In 2012, it was estimated that almost 2 million patients in the United States alone had been prescribed Benicar. Reports show that doctors write more than 11 million Benicar prescriptions each year. It is used to treat hypertension in children above six years old as well as adults.
Trouble was first detected in 2012 when researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported a potential link between the use of Benicar and the development of sprue-like enteropathy in 22 of their hospital patients. That study prompted the FDA to issue a Drug Safety Communication warning that Benicar patients were at risk for this serious gastrointestinal condition. After further investigation, in July 2013, the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo to add this warning to the label for Benicar.
A researcher at St. John's University issued a similar report in January 2014. The June 2014 edition of Family Practice News contained a French study providing further confirmation of the association between Benicar and the development of diarrheal illness that looks like celiac disease.
With celiac disease and enteropathy, the microscopic, finger-like projections known as the villi lining the wall of the small intestine shrink and flatten. This condition is called villous atrophy and prevents the body from absorbing needed nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition. In celiac disease, it is a sensitivity or allergy to gluten that causes the inflammation and damage to the intestinal villi. Celiac patients will benefit from a gluten-free diet. Unlike celiac disease, patients who develop sprue-like enteropathy will not respond to a gluten-free diet. In the studies mentioned above, researchers encouraged doctors to consider Benicar-induced enteropathy in patients demonstrating symptoms of celiac disease but who are not responding positively to a gluten-free regimen or have tested negative for celiac disease. These gastrointestinal issues are often severe enough to require hospitalization.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects
These are the most common and severe side effects of Benicar. Sprue-like enteropathy damages the ability of the small intestines to digest and absorb food. Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, severe weight loss, and severe intestinal damage.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
After clinical trials ORIENT and ROADMAP, in June 2010 the FDA published a Drug Safety Communication that linked Benicar to about 25 deaths involving stroke and attack heart. Other clinical trials and tests have found Benicar to have cardiovascular side effects as well.
Other Major Side Effects
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hair loss
- Heart attacks
- When used by pregnant mother, Benicar has been found to cause fetal toxicity
- Elevated uric acid in the body
- Eye problems or loss of vision
- Allergic reactions
- Electrolyte imbalance (potassium and sodium)
- Low blood pressure
- Severe weight loss
- Swelling and inflammation of the colon
- Swelling of the skin
Minor Side Effects
- Sore throat
- Blood in the urine
- Running nose
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Sinus infection
- Chest pain
- Facial swelling
- Abdominal pain
- High cholesterol
There are actually a growing number of lawsuits being filed against Daiichi Sankyo, with some of the first cases being reported in New Jersey. Those cases were removed from state court to federal court shortly after they were filed. Cases against Daiichi Sankyo have been on the rise since the FDA safety warnings were released. In fact, because so many cases were filed in federal courts around the country, the cases were consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) and transferred to the District Court for New Jersey. The Rhine Law Firm, P.C. was pleased when the Court appointed Joel R. Rhine to be a member of the Plaintiff Steering Committee.
An example case is that of George Williams, who was among the first persons to institute a Benicar lawsuit. One complaint was that - as a result of using the drug - Williams was hospitalized for 100 days. Additionally, he developed a compression fracture and cataracts from the use of Benicar and other treatments for chronic diarrhea. In addition, he can no longer eat normally and has to use a feeding tube. Daiichi Sankyo was ordered to reimburse him for his physical and emotional injuries as well as for on-going medical care.
The complaints against Daiichi Sankyo by consumers who used Benicar typically consist of these allegations:
- Development of sprue-like enteropathy due to ingestion of Benicar;
- Misguided and misleading marketing of Benicar by Daiichi Sankyo;
- Promotion and sale of Benicar and other olmesartan medication products that are believed to be "defective and unreasonably dangerous to consumers";
- Concealing the truth about the dangers of using Benicar and as a result of the same action putting at risk the lives of millions of consumers who take the drug; and
- Failing to warn prospective consumers and doctors of the risks that are involved during usage of the drug.
The Rhine Law Firm, P.C. Is Fighting for Benicar Victims
Benicar lawsuits were filed, and continue to be filed, against Daiichi Sankyo.
In the United States, drug manufacturers have a duty to test their products for health risks and inform the FDA of those risks. When drug manufacturers fail to do this, they are held liable in a court of law for the injuries that result from the consumption of their products. If you or a loved one has developed symptoms after taking Benicar, or other drugs that are similar in function to Benicar such as Azor or Tribenzor, you may be legally entitled to collect compensation from Daiichi Sankyo for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
The lawyers at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., have handled many cases involving defective drugs. Handling product liability cases takes considerable trial experience, product knowledge, medical research and expertise. In addition to gaining compensation for damages, you can hold the company responsible for their actions and prevent them from injuring others. Contact our Wilmington Benicar lawyers today at (910) 772-9960 or toll free (866) 772-9960 for a free consultation.
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