Recent studies have uncovered a link between Benicar (olmesartan) and chronic diarrhea, which often resolves when the medication is discontinued. However, a number of recent lawsuits filed by former Benicar users allege that the lack of warnings provided by the manufacturer caused these problems to go misdiagnosed, resulting in long-term gastrointestinal (GI) injuries.
Free Benicar Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by the side effects of Benicar (olmesartan), you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our lawyers can help.
What is Benicar?
Made by Daiichi Sankyo, Benicar (generic: olmesartan medoxomil) is an angiotensin II receptor blood pressure medication. Benicar is designed to stop blood vessels from narrowing, which lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow. The drug is prescribed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) in adults and children over the age of 6. Benicar was approved by the FDA in April of 2002.
Benicar & Sprue-Like Enteropathy
Although Benicar has been on the market for more than a decade, the public is just learning about the link between the drug and a diarrheal illness called sprue-like enteropathy. In July 2012, a study performed by a research team at the Mayo Clinic identified at least 22 Benicar users from 17 states who were treated for symptoms consistent with celiac disease. The report indicated that when these patients discontinued treatment with Benicar, symptoms tended to resolve in a short period of time.
FDA Warning on Benicar
In July 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the risk of sprue-like enteropathy associated with Benicar. The agency indicated that these problems may take months or even years to surface after a patient starts taking the drug. According the the FDA:
“Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss. The enteropathy may develop months to years after starting olmesartan, and sometimes requires hospitalization (see Data Summary). If patients taking olmesartan develop these symptoms and no other cause is found, the drug should be discontinued, and therapy with another antihypertensive started. Discontinuation of olmesartan has resulted in clinical improvement of sprue-like enteropathy symptoms in all patients.”
Misdiagnosis of Benicar Side Effects
Because doctors were unaware that Benicar may be causing the above-listed symptoms, many patients were misdiagnosed with celiac disease or unclassified sprue, resulting in continued use of the drug. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that has only been found to occur in patients with a genetic predisposition. Although there is currently no known cure for the condition, a gluten fee diet may help reduce symptoms of pain in the GI tract, constipation, diarrhea and fatigue. For Benicar users misdiagnosed with celiac disease, they often report no response to dietary changes, and symptoms persist until they discontinue use of the drug.
Many problems linked to Benicar have been misdiagnosed as unclassified sprue, which may also be referred to as unclassified enteropathy. These terms describe cases where the precise cause of the sprue-like condition is uncertain. Since the link between Benicar and chronic diarrhea was uncovered, the Celiac Disease Center has suggested that the medication may have caused up to 22% of all cases of previously unclassified sprue.
Earlier this year, a report published in Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine highlighted how identification of the link between Benicar and enteropathy may explain a significant percentage of cases previously diagnosed as unclassified sprue.
In 2012, it was reported that a diagnosis of unclassified sprue or unclassified enteropathy was made in approximately one-third of patients with villous atrophy who tested negative for celiac disease. However, after information surfaced about the link between Benicar and sprue, the percentage was only 14% in the unclassified category, which would have likely increased to 30% if the Benicar enteropathy association was still unknown.