As of September 15, 2016, there were 1,728 lawsuits consolidated for pretrial proceedings in MDL 2606. Those lawsuits allege patients were not adequately warned of the risk of gastrointestinal issues linked to the use of Benicar.
Benicar is used to treat patients with high blood pressure. Made by Daiichi Sankyo and marketed by Forest Laboratories, Benicar (also known as olmesartan) has been linked to sprue-like enteropathy. Sprue-like enteropathy can cause weight loss, diarrhea, colitis and other gastrointestinal problems. Although symptoms can take years to develop, in some cases the condition has resolved after patients discontinued their medicine.
Lawsuits are still being filed against Daiichi, alleging patients were harmed due to their use of Benicar. Daiichi and Forest Laboratories had filed to have some lawsuits removed from the MDL, according to reports, but a judge rejected that motion, finding that the patients might have been legitimately confused about their symptoms.
The defendants had filed the motion to remove certain lawsuits arguing that two plaintiffs had symptoms that began before they started using Benicar, and two had conditions that fell outside the Benicar litigation. But several conditions not included in Benicar litigation—such as celiac disease—have similar symptoms and could easily be misdiagnosed. As such, they may be diagnosed with celiac disease and continue using the medication that could be causing their symptoms in the first place.
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The first bellwether trials in the Benicar multidistrict litigation is set for 2017. It, along with nine other lawsuits, is being prepared for trial. Initially the trials were set to begin in 2016, but they have been delayed.
In 2015, Daiichi Sankyo agreed to pay around $40 million to settle allegations from the US Department of Justice that the company illegally paid physicians as encouragement for prescribing Benicar and other medications. The company's Physician Organization and Discussion programs (PODs) allegedly ran from January 1, 2005 through March 31, 2011, and involved paying physicians speaker fees through the programs.