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Plaintiffs in Benicar MDL to File Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Oct 6, 2016

The Benicar multidistrict litigation (MDL) contains over 1,700 lawsuits alleging that the high blood pressure medication caused intestinal problems. Manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo allegedly knew about the risk of sprue-like enteropathy but failed to warn patients or their doctors about this information. The Benicar MDL is venued in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler. In a joint report filed on Aug. 29, plaintiffs told the court that they intend to file motions for partial summary judgment.

Summary judgment occurs when a court enters a judgment for one party in a lawsuit against another without going through a full trial. Summary judgment can be awarded when the court agrees that no facts are being contested. A partial summary judgment can occur if the court does this for only some of the claims. According to court documents, the motions for partial summary judgments are based on the issues of general causation in which Benicar causes sprue-like enteropathy, leading to severe diarrhea and weight loss. Additionally, plaintiffs "intend to file a motion for partial summary judgment establishing the inadequacy of the [Benicar] prescribing information as a matter of law."

MDLs bring together lawsuits with similar allegations in one court before one judge. This type of consolidation helps make the legal process more efficient because it eliminates duplicate discovery. In the case of the Benicar MDL, the plaintiffs allege that Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories failed to study the risk of sprue-like enteropathy with Benicar. Plaintiffs also allege that the drug makers misled patients and physicians about the risks in marketing materials.

The first bellwether trial in the Benicar MDL is scheduled for 2017. A bellwether trial is the first case in a group litigation to be tried; its outcome is used to predict the remaining litigation.

In 2012, Mayo Clinic researchers published 22 case reports detailing sprue-like enteropathy in patients taking Benicar. The reports noted that in some cases, patients were initially diagnosed with celiac disease, where patients develop intestinal symptoms due to gluten. When these patients failed to improve on a gluten-free diet, however, physicians determined that their symptoms were linked to Benicar.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the label on Benicar and other similar medications in 2013 to include the risk of sprue-like enteropathy. After conducting a review of its adverse event database, the FDA said it found "clear evidence of an association between olmesartan and sprue-like enteropathy".

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