Friday, May 15, 2015 - 15 lawsuits pending against pharmaceutical manufacturers Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Forest Laboratories Inc. concerning their high-blood pressure medication Benicar have been centralized into multidistrict litigation. The lawsuits were transferred to New Jersey, beating our requests from plaintiffs to centralize the lawsuits elsewhere. Additional drugs included in the transfer order connected to Benicar produced by the defendants include Benicar HCT and Azor.
The JPML ruled that the arguments given by the defense stating that the individual cases were too case-specific to warrant class certification were not convincing given the amount of lawsuits that had combined to pursue multidistrict litigation. They ruled that although differences in medical treatment and patient‘s history may exist, common questions of fact were shared among the lawsuits and were sufficient to proceed with certification.
Most plaintiffs in the case favored Ohio for centralization, with Minnesota and California listed as additional possibilities along with four other potential suitors. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation however sided with the defendant‘s request for the case to be heard New Jersey where the headquarters of Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Forest Laboratories Inc. are located. There are also additional Benicar lawsuits underway in New Jersey, which the panel stated could better coordinate with the multidistrict litigation case if the lawsuits were centralized nearby.
Plaintiffs are claiming in the lawsuits that Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Forest Laboratories Inc. failed to properly warn customers of the severe side effect risks posed by their Benicar medication. Claims against the defendants include accusations stating that the two manufacturers concealed information connected to the harmful side effects, and that the drug suffered from poor design by the companies leading to the gastrointestinal injuries suffered by the plaintiffs. Class members are pursuing damages for injuries suffered as a result of taking Benicar medications.
Benicar is a angiotensin II receptor blockers that is prescribed to help combat hypertension. The drug was popular at its apex, with 10.6 million prescriptions for the medication given to 1.9 million patients in 2012 alone. The following year however, the FDA issued a warning detailing the connection that Benicar had to sprue-like enteropathy. This condition, which includes severe diarrhea, also prompted the FDA to mandate the addition of a warning label to Benicar alerting customers of the possible side effects. At the time of the mandate, 23 cases of severe diarrhea had been reported in connection with Benicar.
The dehydration and malnutrition that arose in the wake of those affected by the diarrhetic symptoms also led to weight-loss issues for patients. The FDA‘s impetus to take actions with warnings stemmed from information published by Columbia University and the Mayo Clinic. The research performed by the Mayo clinic changed the perception of diarrhea being a fluke side effect to what they claimed at the time was an example of a large problem. Both institutions also claimed because the side effects of Benicar were unknown early on, patients were misdiagnosed as suffering from afflictions such as Celiac and autoimmune diseases.
The JPML stated that 23 additional federal actions may be included as tag-along actions in accordance with the certification of the Benicar lawsuits.