December 23, 2014 — Attorneys for a woman who was diagnosed with sprue-like enteropathy after taking Benicar have asked a panel of federal judges to centralize dozens of lawsuits in one federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
Lawyers for Annette Johnson filed a motion (PDF) with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to centralize the litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, before Judge Dan Aaron Polster.
Fifteen lawsuits have been filed in federal court, of which nine have already been filed in Ohio. Dozens more lawsuits are anticipated to be filed in the next few weeks and over 30 lawsuits have been consolidated in New Jersey by eight law firms.
The lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer of Benicar, Daiichi Sankyo, and Forest Laboratories, Inc. They are accused of selling a defective drug and failing to warn about the risk of chronic diarrhea, nausea, malnutrition, dehydration, and life-threatening weight-loss.
What is the problem?
Benicar (olmesartan) is a blood pressure drug in the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) class. It was approved by the FDA in 2002.
In July 2013, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication after they found a “clear association” between Benicar and 23 cases of “severe chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss,” a condition called sprue-like enteropathy.
The association between Benicar and enteropathy was first reported in August 2012 by doctors at the Mayo Clinic. The authors of the study were not aware of an association between Benicar and gastrointestinal disease. In many cases, patients were misdiagnosed with Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) or other conditions.
About 2 million patients used Benicar or a similar drug in 2012 alone. Although enteropathy was once thought to be a rare side effect, more recent studies suggest that the number of currently filed lawsuits could be just “the tip of the iceberg.”
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