Hypertension and Benicar

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition wherein the pressure on the blood vessels is elevated above the normal. More than 90% of hypertension cases have no obvious cause (primary), but continued unmanaged hypertension can lead to many serious complications. According to the CDC, more than 30% of Americans over 20 have hypertension in 2012, about 67 million, and less than half have it under control.

There are many types of medication designed to control primary hypertension, and one of them is what is called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) or sartans, sometimes also called angiotensin II receptor antagonists. They all sound pretty fancy, but what they basically do is keep the blood vessels from constricting (vasodilation) so that the blood flows more freely and the heart doesn’t have to work that hard. There are many ways to do this, but ARBs specifically blocks angiotensin II, a natural protein produced by the liver which narrows blood vessels.

Benicar (olmesartan) is a brand-name drug of the ARB class produced by Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale in the US in 2002. There were some side effects associated with taking Benicar including dizziness and diarrhea, and it is a Category D drug, meaning that it poses serious dangers to a fetus and should not be taken by a pregnant woman.

However, it wasn’t until 2012 when the Mayo Clinic reported 22 cases of unexplained gastrointestinal problems which mimicked the symptoms of Celiac disease but tests showed it was not that it was suspected that Benicar may be more dangerous than was known. In the 22 cases reported, all were taking Benicar, and they had chronic diarrhea and significant weight loss from failure to absorb nutrients, which as an article on the Williams Kherkher website points out can lead to a number of health complications. It is now known Benicar can induce severe intestinal problems such as sprue-like enteropathy or villous atrophy, and the FDA ordered the label to reflect these risks.

In the meantime, patients who have been on Benicar for a prolonged period have found that the damage is extensive and irreversible. One patient was hospitalized for 100 days and now requires a feeding tube. If you have been seriously harmed from taking Benicar, you may be eligible to get compensation. Contact a dangerous drugs lawyer in your area and get more information on how to go about it.