Here you will find all the frequently asked questions about Benicar (olmesartan), Olmetec and all the other branded or genericized drugs (FAQs). You will find detailed information about this drug’s use as well as side effects, dangers, why people are filing lawsuits against its manufacturer and the ongoing multi-district litigations.
GENERAL AND SAFETY QUESTIONS
Q: What is Benicar?
A: Benicar (Olmesartan medoximil) is a medication used in hypertensive patients to lower high blood pressure. When high blood pressure is not treated, it can cause damage to several organs including the heart and brain, and this drug is indicated to prevent this damage from occurring. Olmesartan is in a group of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) or “sartans” and is often used in conjunction with other medications such as Hydrochlorothiazide and Amlodipine.
Q: Is it safe to take Benicar during pregnancy?
A: The use of olmesartan during pregnancy is associated with a greater risk of congenital malformations. Because of its high risk of fetal toxicity, pregnant women should immediately stop taking this drug as it can “cause injury of death to the developing fetus.”
Q: Why is Benicar dangerous?
A: Although diarrhea is a common side effect of many ARBs, Benicar diarrhea is a more severe form that can cause significant weight loss and gastrointestinal disorders. In April 2014, the FDA approved a change to this drug’s label to include a warning about the risk of severe intestinal problems. After a 2-year minimum exposure to this drug, many patients developed a dangerous sprue-like enteropathy that is very similar to Celiac Disease.
Q: What are the Benicar side effects and symptoms I should be worried about?
A: The symptoms that should alarm you include sudden weight loss, chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating and discomfort, anemia, muscle cramps, mouth ulcers, fatigue, pale or fatty stool, vomiting, migraines and missed menstrual periods. Seek immediate medical advice in case you suffer from one or more of these symptoms while under treatment with this drug.
Q: Is it safe to use Benicar with other drugs?
A: You should always ask your doctor before taking any other medication while under treatment with olmesartan. In elderly patients or those with compromised renal function, Benicar drug interactions include a risk of deterioration of renal function when taken with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and selective COX-2 inhibitors.
BENICAR SIDE EFFECTS AND DANGERS
Q: Is Benicar a safe medication?
A: Many doctors and researchers have raised concerns about the real safety of this medication. The drug was, in fact, approved by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on April 25, 2002, after a short clinical trial of just three months thanks to the FDA fast track program. However, although olmesartan shows a similar safety profile as the other ARBs, this form of enteropathy is unique and much more dangerous than common ARBs-induced diarrhea.
Q: How much is Benicar dangerous for my health?
A: Side effects of olmesartan can be very dangerous because this form of chronic diarrhea can lead to significant weight loss (usually 20-30 kgs). The consequences of this sudden weight loss may include malnourishment and general inflammation which could prove to be further detrimental to cardiovascular health.
Q: What is a Benicar sprue-like enteropathy?
A: This unique sprue-like enteropathy is characterized by a severe form of chronic diarrhea that closely mimics Celiac Disease. Symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, malnutrition, vomit, gastrointestinal disorders and significant weight loss. Although this form of enteritis clearly has an autoimmune origin, its real mechanism is still unknown, as it shows several differences with common Celiac Disease.
Content written by: Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.