However, when the patent expiration is on a medication that's been linked to debilitating side effects and generics are poised to hit the market, the feeling is keenly different. The availability of generics often means more people will be able to access the medication. How many of those people will experience the serious side effects or complications associated with the drug?
Benicar (olmesartan) is a hypertension medication manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical company, Daiichi Sankyo. Although the drug proves effective at treating high blood pressure, it's also been linked to a number of alarming side effects, including serious gastrointestinal conditions such as sprue-like enteropathy.
Daiichi Sankyo's exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights for Benicar recently ended, giving other companies the option to bring olmesartan drugs to the market.
New Generics for Benicar
The West Virginia-based Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. is one company that wasted no time getting its generic Benicar products out on the market. The company released generic versions of Benicar and Benicar HCT® (olmesartan medoxomil and hydrochlorothiazide) in 2016.
Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. isn't the only company getting in on the action. The Mumbai, India-based Lupin Limited, which operates in Baltimore, Maryland under the name Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc., recently received tentative FDA approval for its version of generic Benicar, which it hopes to bring to the market later this year.
FDA Warnings and Sprue-Like Enteropathy
There are plenty of prescription medications linked to undesirable side effects and complications, but Benicar accounts for serious complications. The medication can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe abdomen pain, nausea, vomiting, chronic severe diarrhea, and uncontrollable weight loss. The medication can also damage the villi—specialized, finger-like tissue—that lines the intestine, leaving in its place a smooth, flat lining that's incapable of properly utilizing nutrients.
If the Benicar-related gastrointestinal damage is sufficiently severe, the medication can cause a health condition known as sprue-like enteropathy, which is characterized by chronic nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. This condition often requires hospitalization and, depending on the severity, patients may need to utilize a feeding tube to ensure they're receiving appropriate nutrients.
Additionally, because sprue-like enteropathy shares many of its symptoms with Celiac disease, sprue-like enteropathy is often initially misdiagnosed as such, an unfortunate but common occurrence that can delay the patient's correct diagnosis and treatment.
Cases of sprue-like enteropathy have risen sharply in recent years, with the prevalence of Benicar emerging as a likely culprit. As a result, the FDA updated Benicar's packaging in 2013 to include its findings of “clear evidence of an association between olmesartan and sprue-like enteropathy.”
The numerous Benicar lawsuits filed by former patients who became ill after using the drug continue to grow, but this fact hasn't dissuaded companies from eagerly manufacturing and marketing generics of the drug. Due to the large amount of Benicar lawsuits, the cases were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, with Judge Robert Kugler presiding.
However, only time will tell if the introduction of Benicar generics leads to a spike in sprue-like enteropathy and related legal actions.
Are You Considering a Benicar Lawsuit?
Did you develop severe gastrointestinal issues, such as sprue-like enteropathy, while taking Benicar to lower your blood pressure? Did the condition prevent you from working or require you to be hospitalized? If so, you may be eligible to take legal action and seek compensation from Benicar's manufacturer, Daiichi Sankyo, for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, and more.
If you're considering filing a Benicar lawsuit, contact the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys with McGartland Law. Our firm has 30 years of experiences handling injury cases, including dangerous drug lawsuits, and can help you fight for whatever compensation you need and deserve.