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See the Viral Video that Helped Spawn Benicar Lawsuit

Curious about that video that sparked a lawsuit against the makers of Benicar? Watch it here.


A viral video led to lawsuits against the makers of Benicar. Photo: CC--Michael Coghlan

Celiac.com 11/15/2016 - The YouTube video that helped to spark litigation against blood pressure drug Olmesartan, also marketed as Benicar, was made by celiac disease expert Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, who is very familiar with the drug's side effects.

In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to patients and doctors that the popular blood pressure medication Benicar had been linked to a severe side effect called sprue-like enteropathy. The side effect was easily confused with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, and caused serious problems in many patients, including cases of irreparable gut damage.

A week after the FDA's warning, Dr. Joseph Murray took to YouTube to notify patients about the drug's risks. In the video, Dr. Murray advises anyone who is taking Benicar, and who has also been diagnosed with celiac disease, to consult a doctor about the FDA warning.

Many Benicar patients learned the hard way the drug can cause debilitating side effects, but Dr. Murray's video no doubt helped spread awareness to patients who suffer from sprue-like enteropathy. Many patients feel Benicar's manufacturer, Daiichi Sankyo, failed to warn consumers of the risks associated with the drug and are now trying to hold the company responsible through legal action. There are more than 1,700 lawsuits currently pending against the company.

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Plaintiffs have called into question the validity of the clinical trial leading to Benicar's approval with the FDA. Managing high blood pressure is a long-term proposition, but the clinical trial testing Benicar's safety and efficacy only lasted three months.

Plaintiffs believe the short clinical trial caused the makers to overlook the risk of sprue-like enteropathy, but plaintiffs are also pointing to the fact that drug maker Daiichi Sankyo spent $1 billion on Benicar advertising between 2002 and 2008. The plaintiffs say that company advertising focused more on the benefits of Benicar, while downplaying potential risks.

The suit has been slate for court docket in 2017. Stay tuned for developments on this and related matters.

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