Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - The judge presiding over the Benicar hypertension drug multidistrict litigation is aiming for the proceedings to reach its first bellwether trials in late 2016. The MDL, which began in April of 2015 with just 35 lawsuits, has grown to more than 1,100 complaints that are seeking to recover damages from Benicar manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo for failing to warn patients about the risks involved with taking the hypertension drug.
The call for bellwether trials to begin in late 2016 was made during a pretrial hearing on September 30, as U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider made it clear that he wanted the benicar lawsuits to move ahead at a brisk pace given the size of the MDL and complexities that could lengthen the proceedings over the coming months. Bellwether trials are held in MDLs to help attorneys on both sides feel out how juries will respond to the evidence and arguments provided by both sides relating to the charges filed. Many time the jury trends from the first few bellwether trials helps determine the size of a settlement and how quickly an MDL will be resolved.
Daiichi Sankyo reached a $39 million settlement with the Department of Justice in the beginning of 2015 to bring to an end False Claim Act charges the government agency had brought against the company. The multidistrict litigation is made up of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who were directly affected by the serious side effects caused by Daiichi Sankyo‘s Benicar medication.
Plaintiffs claim that Benicar, a drug that was prescribed to patients to help treat high blood-pressure, caused a number of gastrointestinal side effects that seriously hurt or inconvenienced those that took the medication. The main allegations claim that Benicar can lead to sprue-like enteropathy, a serious gastrointestinal condition, and other serious symptoms as a result of taking the drug. Plaintiffs have claimed that these symptoms have led to diarrhea and other complications that they are now seeking to be compensated for.
The side effects of taking Benicar were oftentimes misdiagnosed as the patient suffering from Celiac‘s disease, as many of the symptoms appeared similar. However none of these symptoms changed after switching the patients to gluten-free diets. Many of the more serious cases reported between 10 and 20 bouts with diarrhea per day, which led to serious and dangerous amounts of weight loss.
Benicar has faced government regulations in regard to its serious side effects. In 2013, the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo to affix a warning label to the medication warning potential patients of an increased risk of sprue-like enteropathy as a result of taking Benicar. The agency also alerted those who were currently taking the drug to contact a healthcare professional immediately if they experienced any symptoms consistent with sprue-like enteropathy.
The MDL is overseen by U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler and was transferred to the District of New Jersey federal court. There are also dozens of Benicar lawsuits at the state level in New Jersey that have been consolidated into multicounty litigation.