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  • Jefferson Adams

    Does Benicar Trigger Celiac-like Gut Symptoms?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Image: Wikimedia Commons
    Caption: Image: Wikimedia Commons

    Celiac.com 07/09/2014 - Does the blood pressure medication Benicar (Olmesartan medoxomil) trigger celiac-like gut symptoms?

    Image: Wikimedia CommonsThe law firm Levin, Papantonio has filed a lawsuit claiming just that, on behalf of a Texas man who allegedly developed a rare gastrointestinal condition known as sprue-like enteropathy while taking Benicar.



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    According to the complaint, Benicar caused the plaintiff to suffer severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including chronic diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration. These symptoms are commonly associated with a rare sprue-like enteropathy.

    The lawsuit comes as Benicar faces scrutiny following a Mayo Clinic study linking the popular drug to rare sprue-like enteropathy in users.

    The connection between Benicar and the sprue-like enteropathy symptoms was first noted by Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, Dr. Joseph Murray, after he observed two patients taking Benicar experience relief from symptoms thought to be associated with Celiac disease. Upon discontinuing the use of Benicar, the gastrointestinal symptoms vanished.

    Dr. Murray then conducted a three-year study of 22 people who experienced celiac-like symptoms while taking Benicar. He found that 14 of those patients had symptoms so severe that hospitalization was required.

    Moreover, none of the 22 original patients responded to a gluten-free diet, and none showed any detectable levels of tissue transglutaminase in the blood, which would point to celiac disease.

    After discontinuing the Benicar treatments, the intestinal symptoms disappeared in each of the 22 patients, and they all regained lost weight.

    In 2013, in keeping with Dr. Murray’s findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed Benicar’s label to include a warning that the drug may trigger sprue-like enteropathy and symptoms similar to celiac disease.

    If you think you may have suffered adverse effects from Benicar, check with your doctor, and possibly with a lawyer.

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    I am one of those people who suffered celiac symptoms as a result of taking Benicar. I suffered from this for eight years not knowing Benicar was the cause. For some reason possibly associated with Benicar I began to suffer dizziness and light-headedness when I stood so my doctor took me off blood pressure medication and all my symptoms disappeared. Since that time I have regained lost weight and show no signs of celiac disease though I still maintain a gluten free diet for fear that I may actually have celiac that put me in the hospital for 15 days one time and again for another 4 after that. Now, though I am not as strict in trying to avoid trace amounts of gluten in my foods and have so far had no problems since coming off Benicar.

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    Guest Kathryn Millspaugh

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    I was on Benicar for several years. After my symptoms got bad enough to diagnose, I would get horribly sick within 30 minutes of taking Benicar. I would start feeling bad within 15 to 20 minutes. The vomiting would go on 3 to 3 1/2 hours before it was over. My doctor said she'd heard of that before my case.

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    I am one of those people who suffered celiac symptoms as a result of taking Benicar. I suffered from this for eight years not knowing Benicar was the cause. For some reason possibly associated with Benicar I began to suffer dizziness and light-headedness when I stood so my doctor took me off blood pressure medication and all my symptoms disappeared. Since that time I have regained lost weight and show no signs of celiac disease though I still maintain a gluten free diet for fear that I may actually have celiac that put me in the hospital for 15 days one time and again for another 4 after that. Now, though I am not as strict in trying to avoid trace amounts of gluten in my foods and have so far had no problems since coming off Benicar.

    Gerald, did you ever contact this law firm (Levin, Papantonio)?

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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