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Benicar Lawsuits Centralized in New Jersey

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Jersey City, NJAs predicted, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has duly centralized and transferred 15 Benicar Lawsuits to federal court in New Jersey. While a majority of the plaintiffs favored other jurisdictions, the judges in their April 3rd order decided on New Jersey given that the defendants in the matter, Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Forest Laboratories Inc., call New Jersey home.

The lawsuits, all alluding to Benicar side effects, allege that Benicar has a flawed design that fosters the possibility of sprue-like enteropathy, a particularly nasty gastrointestinal issue characterized by diarrhea, nausea, malnutrition, dehydration and weight loss. Plaintiffs also accuse the defendants of failure to warn. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got on board the Benicar bandwagon in 2013, requiring Daiichi Sankyo and Forest to mandate a label change for the product, warning patients and the medical community about the possibility for Benicar Illness and Weight Loss.

Before the label change, according to Benicar plaintiffs, there was no warning as to the possibility of sprue-like enteropathy. By the time the label change was mandated by the FDA on July 3, 2013, no fewer than 23 serious cases of late-onset diarrhea had been identified in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS).

Benicar, known generically as olmesartan, is a drug designed to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. The latter has become a scourge amongst the American population, due partially to poor dietary choices and other factors. Benicar is just one of a handful of hypertension drugs designed to lower blood pressure to safer and more acceptable levels.

The concern with Benicar is the potential for sprue-like enteropathy. To that end, severe diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues related to Benicar use can be devastating to the health of an elderly person, who may have difficulty even surviving Benicar illness and weight loss. According to various sources, the Benicar side effects can take months, if not years, to develop and the ensuing aftermath often lands patients in the hospital.

Plaintiffs alleging Benicar defective products note that 1.9 million prescriptions for Benicar or a similar drug were written in 2012 alone. Given that hypertension is a chronic condition, it is feasible that Benicar and other hypertension drugs constitute long-term, ongoing therapy for many patients. Thus, the ongoing risk for sprue-like enteropathy and the plaintiffs’ lobby for centralization, given the potential for additional lawsuits spread across multiple jurisdictions.

The MDL centralization order is expected to facilitate coordination with some 40 other cases involving Benicar and hypertension drugs that have already seen consolidation in the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division.

“…the Honorable Robert B. Kugler, to whom we assign this litigation, is an experienced jurist, and we have no doubt that he will steer this MDL on a prudent course,” the JPML panel said, in making the order at the beginning of April.

The case is In Re: Benicar (Olmesartan) Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 2606, in the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

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