For more information or confidential assistance
se habla español

Benicar Lawsuits May be Centralized Under MDL

Benicar-labelAs Benicar lawsuits continue to escalate across the nation, plaintiffs have petitioned the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate similar actions that allege severe gastrointestinal injuries. In a motion filed on December 18, plaintiff Annette Johnson asked the JPML to transfer all federally-filed cases to the Northern District of Ohio for more streamlined pretrial proceedings.

At present, at least 15 product liability complaints involving Benicar injuries are pending in U.S. District Courts. The claims argue that Benicar manufacturer and distributers, Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, failed to properly warn consumers and their doctors about the serious nature of Benicar side effects such as sprue-like enteropathy. Additionally, Daiichi Sankyo faces 30 lawsuits alleging Benicar-related injuries in New Jersey state court, where litigation has been centralized under one judge. 

Federal Benicar lawsuits may be centralized under MDL

Johnson is petitioning the formation of federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all similar Benicar cases in an effort to avoid contradictory pretrial rulings and conserve judicial resources. MDL, unlike a class action, only consolidates lawsuits for pretrial processes so that both sides can share in fact-finding discovery and possible bellwether trials. If settlements aren’t reached prior to trials, each case is sent back to its original court for final resolution.  A class action lawsuit, on the other hand, joins all plaintiffs together in one action so that they share in whatever verdict or settlement is produced.

Attorneys representing current Benicar plaintiffs speculate that litigation will only continue to grow, as more studies reveal the connection between the controversial blood pressure medication and severe gastrointestinal problems, such as dramatic weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and intestinal damage. Research published by the Mayo Clinic and Columbia University suggest that patients taking Benicar were often misdiagnosed with Celiac disease,  autoimmune disease, and other conditions that can cause lasting gastrointestinal problems. The motion suggested litigation will likely include numerous patients who were misdiagnosed by their gastroenterologists due to a lack of knowledge about adverse Benicar side effects.

According to the plaintiff’s motion for the creation of a Benicar MDL: “Centralization will conserve financial resources of the courts as one federal judge, rather than many federal judges will resolve issues related to discovery, expert witnesses, and other common issues between the cases…Finally, centralization of the federal cases will make it easier for the New Jersey state court judge (and potentially future state court judges) to coordinate with one federal judge, as opposed to attempting to coordinate with multiple federal judges across the country.”

The JPML may set a schedule for oral arguments regarding the motion as early as January 2015, or in a March 26 hearing to be held in San Diego, California.

Sprue like enteropathy and Benicar

Though Benicar has been available for more than a decade, it’s only been in the media spotlight for adverse side effects in recent years. Also known by its generic name of olmesartan medoxomil, Benicar is an anti-hypertension medication that has been blamed for a host of life-altering health problems including:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Malabsorption
  • Rapid and substantial weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Acute renal failure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sprue like enteropathy
  • Accelerated aging due to body’s inability to absorb food and water

Litigation concerning Benicar GI problems spiked after the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo to update their product label in July 2013. The new label cautions that users have an increased risk of developing sprue-like enteropathy.

Among the many allegations leveled in Benicar claims is that the defendants engaged in fraudulent marketing practices such as downplaying the drug’s risks and overstating its benefits.

Nine of the fifteen filed Benicar lawsuits are pending in the Northern District of Ohio, which is one of the reasons the motion suggests this court for MDL proceedings.


  1. FDA, FDA Drug Safety Podcast for Healthcare Professionals: Ongoing safety review of Benicar and cardiovascular events
  2. WebMD, Benicar