With the New Year came another lawsuit filed over Benicar (generic “olmersartan”). As the 2012 Mayo Clinic’s case study linking Benicar to severe sprue-like enteropathy continues to be discussed, patients are coming forward to report the negative side effects they have suffered from taking the drug. A lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California in January 2015 alleges that the makers of Benicar did not properly warn patients about the risks associated with the drug. See Verduzco v. Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., Case No. 3:15-cv-159, in US District Court, Northern District of California.
Plaintiffs are specifically concerned about the link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy. According to the complaint, two plaintiffs, Louis Verduzco and Michael Ewald, developed personal injuries including “sprue-like enteropathy, villous atrophy, lymphocytic colitis, microscopic colitis, collagenous colitis, and/or intestinal malabsorption.” Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea, intestinal problems and substantial weight loss. These symptoms mimic that of Celiac disease, but they are not the same thing.
For these plaintiffs, exposure to the drug resulted in chronic diarrhea, rapid weight loss, dehydration and/or acute renal failure. The plaintiffs allege they had to be hospitalized for their conditions and now require ongoing medical monitoring. They also allege that they were unaware of any adverse side effects associated with Benicar, and that the maker of the drug, Daiichi Sankyo, did not properly test it to prove that it was actually effective for treating hypertension.
Litigation Moves Forward
Back in June 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication regarding Benicar, and requested that the drug company go through a label change to reflect this. There has been a plethora of lawsuits filed since then, most originally arising from the Mayo Clinic Study. In fact, a motion to consolidate lawsuits was filed with the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in late 2014. These 2014 lawsuits alleged that Benicar was defective and dangerous, and that clinical trials for the drug lasted only three months (while the drug is typically prescribed for six months to a year). See e.g., Dirksen v. Daiichi Sankyo.
It is important to note that the individuals represented in these lawsuits took Benicar and were severely injured. Their claims are that the manufacturer of Benicar, Daiichi Sankyo, knew of the link between Benicar and the rare gastro disease caused by their drug, but did not properly warn the public of the associated risks. Instead, the manufacturer put profits ahead of the public safety, resulting in a slew of mass tort litigation.
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