Attorneys for a plaintiff suing the makers of Benicar have asked a panel of federal judges to consolidate all such lawsuits in Ohio, where the majority of cases have been filed. The complaints allege that Benicar caused users to suffer chronic diarrhea, indigestion and sprue-like enteropathy.
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The Dec. 18 motion was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on behalf of Annette Johnson, requesting that the 15 federal and more than 30 Benicar Lawsuits filed in New Jersey state court be transferred to Northern District of Ohio. According to the request, 9 of the 15 federal cases are already pending in Ohio, and more are expected to be filed there in the coming weeks and months.
“Pretrial centralization allows defendants to work with one consolidated set of discovery requests and filings from plaintiffs’ counsel in federal cases, rather than negotiating with various counsel and courts across the country,” the motion states. “Pretrial centralization will also allow plaintiffs and defendants to concentrate their attention and energy on one federal forum, allowing plaintiffs and defendants to respond more quickly and effectively to opposing counsel and the transferee court, enhancing the overall efficiency of the litigation.”
The complaints accuse drug-maker Daiichi Sankyo Inc. of designing Benicar in a defective manner, and of failing to warn consumers that it could cause persistent diarrhea and sprue-like enteropathy, a gastrointestinal condition similar to celiac disease. Forest Laboratories has been accused of marketing Benicar alongside Daiichi.
In July 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that there was “clear evidence” of a link between Benicar and diarrhea, weight loss and other related symptoms. Reports indicated a causal relationship, as the problems with Benicar stopped when users quit the drug and resumed once again when it was continued. FDA warned that Benicar users may develop gastrointestinal problems months or even years after they begin treatment, often resulting in the need for hospitalization.