Benicar Lawsuits Centralized in MDL in New JerseyApril 6, 2015 — A panel of federal judges have decided to centralize dozens of lawsuits involving Benicar into one federal court in New Jersey.

In an order issued on April 3, the judicial panel centralized the lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2606) in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, overseen by Judge Robert B. Kugler.

There are now more than 35 federal lawsuits pending in 23 district courts. Another 40 lawsuits involving Benicar injuries have also been consolidated at the state level in New Jersey under Judge Nelson Johnson.

These lawsuits allege that olmesartan — the active ingredient in Benicar, Benicar HCT, Tribenzor, and Azor — can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects, including:

Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, the Japanese manufacturer and marketer of Benicar, opposed centralization. Judges rejected their arguments, but compromised by centralizing the litigation in New Jersey, where both companies are headquartered.

According to the judicial panel:

“The present number of involved cases and districts is sufficient to warrant centralization, especially given the complexity of the issues involved and the likelihood of at least some foreign discovery.”

Centralization of the litigation in an MDL will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings from different judges in various courts, and conserve the resources of both parties, witnesses, attorneys, and the judiciary.

Benicar has been on the market for over a decade, but the first warnings about sprue-like enteropathy were not published until recently. In July 2013, the FDA warned that there was “clear evidence” that Benicar could cause users to suffer intestinal side effects.

Because there were no warnings for so long, many users were misdiagnosed with Celiac disease (gluten allergy) and continued taking Benicar. Over time, sprue-like enteropathy causes watery diarrhea, weight-loss, malnutrition, and permanent damage to the lining of the intestines.

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