November 20, 2014 — Abdominal pain from enteropathy may be side effects of Benicar (olmesartan), but not other blood-pressure drugs in the same class, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.
Conclusions were based on a study of 40 patients with abdominal pain who were also using blood-pressure drugs in the angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) class, including 20 patients on Benicar and 20 patients on other ARBs.
Researchers from Columbia University found that 10 of 20 patients on Benicar had at least one symptom of sprue-like enteropathy, a gastrointestinal disease that causes abdominal pain, life-threatening diarrhea, severe weight-loss, malnutrition, intestinal damage, kidney problems, and more.
However, only 4 out of 20 patients on other ARBs had symptoms of the disease. The rate of sprue-like enteropathy symptoms was similar to patients on placebos, suggesting that other ARBs do not increase the risk of this disease.
The researchers also noted the study “raises the possibility that there is a spectrum of historical changes associated with olmesartan use.”
Evidence linking Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy has grown rapidly since 2012, when doctors at the Mayo Clinic described 23 cases. In July 2013, the FDA published a Safety Communication, warning that symptoms can appear months or even years after a patient starts taking Benicar.
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