U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider, the New Jersey federal judge presiding over consolidated Benicar product liability lawsuits, has ordered two doctors hired as expert witnesses by plaintiffs to reveal the patient records they used to form their opinions.
The records, which are cited in the doctors' reports and depositions, must be produced in accordance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and applicable case law, Judge Schneider ruled in his written opinion.
The ruling was made in response to a letter from Susan M. Sharko, a defense attorney for Benicar manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo, who argued that the defense was entitled to review and assess patient records the plaintiffs' expert witnesses had used to draw their conclusions about the drug.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs had argued that the doctors—gastroenterologist and celiac specialist Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl and gastrointestinal pathologist Stephen M. Lagana, both physicians at Columbia Presbyterian University Hospital in New York City—didn't control the records in question and that producing them for the court would be burdensome.
Judge Schneider rejected this argument and directed the doctors to provide the records by March 31, 2017 rather than have the expert testimonies stricken from the record. However, the judge did allow the redaction of personal identifying information in the records to preserve the privacy of patients not involved in the ongoing legal dispute.
Developed and manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo, Benicar (olmesartan) is an angiotensin II receptor antagonist medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2002 for the treatment of hypertension. Benicar is one of the most prescribed drugs in its class and its active ingredient, olmesartan, is also used in a number of other blood pressure-lowering medications.
Dangerous Benicar Side Effects
Like many prescription medications, Benicar carries a risk of side effects. While most of the side effects associated with Benicar are relatively mild—such as fatigue and abdominal bloating and discomfort—others are more concerning.
Benicar can cause:
- chest pain
- irregular heartbeat
- kidney damage or failure
- severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting which, in turn, can lead to substantial weight loss and malnutrition
Additionally, Benicar has been linked to severe gastrointestinal injury in some patients. Known as sprue-like enteropathy and villous atrophy, and caused by the damage to the intestinal lining, these injuries are often confused for Celiac disease, due to similar symptoms.
Benicar Lawsuits and Multi-District Legislation
Some patients who've experienced severe gastrointestinal injuries while taking Benicar have filed lawsuits against the drug's manufacturer, Daiichi Sankyo, claiming the company failed to sufficiently test the drug, resulting in the release of a dangerous product. Many of the lawsuits also allege that even after Daiichi Sankyo became aware of the risks associated with Benicar, it continued to market the medication without warning doctors and patients.
Daiichi Sankyo is currently facing more than 1,800 such lawsuits, filed by Benicar patients from all across the country. In March 2015, a panel of federal judges consolidated these lawsuits into a single multi-district litigation (MDL) in New Jersey. Judge Schneider's ruling that plaintiff expert witnesses must produce the medical records they used when forming opinions supporting plaintiff allegations was made as part of this MDL.
Are You Considering a Benicar Lawsuit?
When doctors prescribe medications, patients should be able to trust that the prescribed drugs will treat their condition without creating other serious health problems. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. While not all patients who take Benicar will develop serious and life-threatening gastrointestinal injuries, those who do may live with the effects of those injuries for the rest of their lives.
If you developed serious gastrointestinal conditions such as sprue-like enteropathy and villous atrophy after taking Benicar, your life may be forever changed. Fortunately, you don't have to suffer in silence. The law gives you the opportunity to sue the manufacturers of dangerous drugs to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your potential Benicar lawsuit.