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Benicar Illness and Weight Loss Lawsuit Witnesses Must Produce Records

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Camden, NJThis spring has seen some developments in the Benicar side effects multidistrict litigation over gastrointestinal issues and sprue-like enteropathy associated with olmesartan (Benicar), a medication prescribed for high blood pressure. By the middle of March there were some 1,800 Benicar cases housed in the Benicar MDL in New Jersey.

Plaintiffs in Benicar lawsuits are relying on the testimony of two expert witnesses who are employed at Columbia Presbyterian University Hospital in New York City. Defendants in the Benicar litigation pressed the presiding judge in the MDL to require the plaintiffs’ witnesses to produce documents supporting the expert testimony of the expert witnesses.

Plaintiffs countered that producing redacted medical documents would be overly burdensome, and might delay proceedings. The plaintiffs further pointed out that plaintiffs do not control the records sought.

In the end, the judge disagreed with the plaintiffs and ordered that the redacted documents be duly disclosed.

Defendants in the Benicar illness and weight loss litigation include Daiichi Sankyo, the manufacturer of Benicar. Olmesartan is prescribed for hypertension, and is deemed effective for hypertension patients to lower their blood pressure. Plaintiffs, however allege that amongst the Benicar side effects is sprue-like enteropathy, a nasty gastro-intestinal condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and weight loss, amongst other Benicar side effects. Many plaintiffs have been hospitalized, and there have been some deaths associated with the Benicar defective products, or so it is alleged.

Plaintiffs assert Daiichi Sankyo has been negligent in manufacturing and marketing a defective product – and also accuse the manufacturer of withholding information as to the seriousness of sprue-like enteropathy.

Drs. Benjamin Lebwohl and Stephen M. Lagana are the two expert witnesses testifying for the plaintiffs. US Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider allowed for the records to be redacted to remove all personal identifying information. However, Judge Schneider ruled that the witnesses nonetheless must produce or make available for inspection by drug maker Daiichi Sankyo and related defendants the medical records the physicians “considered” in reaching their expert opinions, saying such disclosure was required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and applicable case law.

“Records considered by trial experts in reaching their expert opinions must be produced,” Judge Schneider said in his written opinion.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has studied reports to its Adverse Events Reporting System (AERS) as well as a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, and has since cautioned consumers and the health care industry that there remains, in the FDA’s view, “clear evidence of an association between olmesartan and sprue-like enteropathy.”

The MDL is In Re: Benicar (Olmesartan) Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 1:15-md-02606, in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey.

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