Benicar, Azor, and Tribenzor Lawsuits Continue

Much has been said and written about Benicar and its sprue-like enteropathy side effects, symptoms very much like that of celiac disease.  Less has been said about two other Daiichi Sankyo manufactured medications, Azor and Tribenzor, though lawsuits are on the rise.

In November, an Iowa woman and her husband filed suit against the Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo Inc., claiming that after being prescribed Azor in January 2011, she continued to take the hypertension medication as directed for some time.  During this time, the Plaintiff suffered several injuries, including sprue-like enteropathy “with severe, chronic diarrhea resulting in substantial weight loss and malnutrition…” sustaining severe and permanent personal injuries in addition to constant pain and suffering.

This post was written in 2015, but portions have been updated in 2024 to explain the history of the litigation and how it turned out.

Benicar Lawsuit Update 2024

The Benicar litigation might be over, but the battle over money rages on. a federal court in New Jersey has decided not to move a proposed malpractice class action back to the state level. This case accuses a group of attorneys of claiming an overly large portion of the settlements from a multidistrict litigation for Benicar.

The ruling issued on Wednesday maintains the lawsuit in federal court, which is a setback for the lead plaintiff and their legal representatives. This follows a pattern from a similar case that was dismissed in the previous year, a decision that was subsequently affirmed upon appeal.

The plaintiff had sought to have the case returned to the state court in August 2023, arguing that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over the disputed fees. However, the federal judge disagreed, stating that the court does have ancillary jurisdiction over such disputes that are connected to the broader product liability claims of the MDL.

The Benicar settlement  which was originally for $300 million and later increased to $380 million, addressing alleged gastrointestinal injuries caused by a Benicar. The plaintiff and other claimants assert that the lawyers involved collected fees that exceeded the amount that should have been requested from the court, also accusing them of collecting double compensation.

The judge, in not addressing the specifics of the plaintiff’s allegations, reflected on the reasoning from a similar, previously dismissed case. The judge noted that the fees obtained from the collective settlement fund were not duplicative but were legitimately earned for the handling of the MDL.

2024 Benicar Lawsuit Overview

The Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) litigation ended with a $300 million settlement reached in August 2017 by the drug maker Daiichi Sankyo to resolve lawsuits. These lawsuits alleged that Benicar and its sister drugs, used for treating high blood pressure, caused severe gastrointestinal injuries including a disorder called sprue-like enteropathy. The initial settlement agreement required at least 95% of claimants to opt-in. This benchmark was met and later, in May 2018, the settlement amount was increased to $38 million after 97% of claimants opted in. The settlement addressed claims from more than 2,230 of the 2,300 cases that were part of the MDL.

The claims in these lawsuits were quite serious, with plaintiffs alleging that the medications led to severe side effects, such as sprue-like enteropathy, which causes symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, including chronic diarrhea and substantial weight loss. There was also an assertion that the drug manufacturers failed to adequately warn about these risks, and continued to market the drugs in a way that minimized references to any health risks​.

The lawsuits were consolidated into an MDL in the District of New Jersey for streamlined processing, though unlike a class action, the MDL allowed each lawsuit to be handled individually.

What seems to be the problem?

Benicar, Azor, and Tribenzor are hypertension medications made from the drug olmesartan.  Since Benicar was first introduced into the U.S. drug market in 2002, over 11 million patients have been prescribed the popular Daiichi drug every year.  Researchers though, over the past few years, have discovered the use of Benicar and other olmesartan drugs have a high correlation with the development of several risky health conditions and harmful side effects.  Yet it still took until July 2013 for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to publish a public health notice warning olmesartan medoxomil users (marketed as Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor, Tribenzor, and generics) of the  sprue-like enterophathy and related gastrointestinal (GI) problems allegedly caused by the hypertension medications.

The Iowa Plaintiff alleges she needed constant medical monitoring, screening, testing, and treatments and that she will require more in the future.  She and her husband the Azor lawsuit making several claims against Daiichi including design defect, failure to warn, gross negligence, negligence, negligence per se, fraudulent concealment, constructive fraud, violation of Iowa’s Consumer Protection Laws, unjust enrichment, and loss of consortium.  They are seeking relief from Daiichi in the form of compensatory, treble, and punitive damages, payment of attorney’s fees, and any other forms of relief so deemed fit by the court.

Some other Benicar and Azor side effects experienced by consumers include:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Sudden and severe weight loss
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Villous atrophy
  • Other GI problems regularly misdiagnosed as celiac symptoms

Symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, substantial weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, villous atrophy, and even colon perforation – all serious side-effects, typically stop once the medication is discontinued.  That sure has to tell you something about the correlation between the drug and the side effects.

What is the current status?

Most lawsuits against Daiichi Sankyo are currently being filed in state court, though there a few spread throughout U.S. District Courts nationwide. The number of cases is growing and a class action is inevitable.  But until such time, Daiichi Sankyo may have to face several different trial schedules.  A case management order issued in September, for a lawsuit filed by a woman who suffered chronic diarrhea and other side effects from Benicar HCT, appears the first trial date and may be sometime in early 2016.  The lawsuit originally filed in California was later removed to the federal court system.

Can I File a Lawsuit?

In 2024, the Benicar MDL is history.  If you have a potential claim, call a lawyer.  Our firm is not handling these lawsuits.

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