On July 4, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug administration issued a warning that Benicar causes sprue-like enteropathy. The high blood pressure drug has been linked to more than 60 cases of severe Benicar enteropathy that exhibits symptoms similar to those of Celiac Disease, including:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Rapid and substantial weight loss
- Stomach pain and discomfort
- Cardiovascular problems
But unlike Celiac Disease, a gluten-free diet will not improve the symptoms of Benicar enteropathy. The only way to do that is to stop taking Benicar.
What is Benicar?
Benicar is a medication developed by Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. to treat high blood pressure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration originally approved Benicar in 2002, and doctors write more than 11 million prescriptions a year for the medication.
Benicar’s active ingredient, olmesartan medoxomil, lowers blood pressure by helping to keep blood vessels open. It can be taken either as a singular blood pressure treatment or as part of a combination of drugs.
Despite the popularity of Benicar, research linking the drug to severe gastrointestinal side effects led the FDA in April 2014 to issue a mandate that Benicar carry a warning on its label regarding its association with severe gastrointestinal side effects.
The Mayo Clinic contacted the FDA in 2012 after their researchers found a connection between specific gastrointestinal symptoms and olmesartan medoxomil. Between 2008 and 2011, Mayo Clinic saw 22 patients with symptoms similar to those associated with Celiac disease. Although tests for Celiac disease returned negative, all the patients took Benicar.
Some people who took Benicar have suffered physically, financially, and may have undergone long and difficult treatments to ease the severe intestinal complications and other health issues triggered by Benicar. Soon after the 2013 FDA warning, former Benicar users filed the first lawsuits in New Jersey against Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. and the cases were moved to federal court. Those lawsuits and others are still pending today with numerous other new cases being filed on a continual basis.