What is Benicar?
Benicar is a blood pressure medication belonging to a class of medications known as angiotensin II inhibitors. It is manufactured by the Japanese company Daiichi Sankyo and co-promoted in the U.S. by Forest Laboratories. Benicar works by inhibiting angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict, which creates high blood pressure. By inhibiting the action of this hormone, blood vessels become dilated. Dilation of blood vessels causes blood flow to increase, which results in reduced blood pressure.
Benicar has been linked to a condition called sprue-like enteropathy, a rare gastrointestinal disease often misdiagnosed as Celiac Disease. This condition involves chronic diarrhea and substantial weight loss. These side effects can occur several months or years after starting Benicar, and often require hospitalization.
What is the evidence linking Benicar to severe gastrointestinal issues?
A recent Mayo Clinic study conducted by Dr. Joseph Murray linked the development of sprue-like enteropathy to Benicar:
- The study was based on 22 patients taking Benicar that had gastrointestinal symptoms initially diagnosed as Celiac Disease
- The patients were not responding to a gluten free diet, a common form of treatment for Celiac Disease
- These patients also did not have specific markers that are used to positively diagnose Celiac Disease
- Upon discontinuation of Benicar, all 22 patients experienced relief from gastrointestinal symptoms
- Murray concluded that Benicar was directly linked to the gastrointestinal symptoms that the patients experienced.
How does Benicar cause sprue-like enteropathy?
When receptors are blocked from responding to Angiotensin II, the hormone continues to travel through the bloodstream. This may cause gene expression (a process by which genetic information is released and converted into a protein) of “transformation growth factor (TGF)”, a protein that can cause cellular mutation. This increase in TGF may be responsible for the cellular damage in the intestinal tract leading to the symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy.
What legal action has been taken against the manufacturers of Benicar?
In July of 2013 the FDA issued a warning that Benicar can cause sprue-like enteropathy. Daiichi Sankyo had been promoting Benicar for several years, claiming that it was safe and effective. Benicar is the only angiotensin II inhibitor known to cause sprue-like enteropathy, meaning that if patients were informed, they would have considered safer alternatives. Because the manufacturer did not provide adequate warning about Benicar’s side effects, patients were often misdiagnosed with Celiac Disease, resulting in delayed accurate diagnosis and severe health complications.
The FDA’s warning was fairly recent, and people are now beginning to file lawsuits against Daiichi Sankyo. There have not been any large group settlements as of yet, but every day more troubling information is being discovered about Benicar.
How can Roberts & Roberts help?
Sprue-like enteropathy is extremely serious and can lead to severe malnutrition and even starvation. The manufacturers of Benicar did not adequately warn doctors and patients about the dangers of this drug. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with sprue-like enteropathy, you may be entitled to compensation. We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible, as there is a statute of limitations involving claims and acting quickly will ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.