Benicar is a prescription drug used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). When it first hit the markets in 2002, Benicar was touted as superior to other similar drugs for lack of side effects and effectiveness. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning that the drug may cause serious gastrointestinal problems, including chronic diarrhea, significant weight loss, and a condition known as sprue-like enteropathy.
Between 2002 – when Benicar entered the market – and 2008, manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo spent about $1 billion marketing the drug. According to the FDA, no other drugs in Benicar’s class are reported to cause similar side effects. Patients taking Benicar may develop villous atrophy, a condition that results in the inability to effectively absorb nutrients through the intestinal lining. If villous atrophy goes untreated, it can lead to severe malnutrition, dehydration, and chronic diarrhea.
Benicar Side Effects May Mimic Celiac Disease
Upon the release of the FDA’s warning in 2013, people began filing lawsuits against Daiichi Sankyo for failure to warn about risks associated with Benicar. Since Benicar side effects can mimic other disorders, such as Celiac disease, misdiagnoses have led to further complications. In some patients, chronic diarrhea went undiagnosed for years.
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers
Benicar belongs to a family of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). The other seven drugs in this family are:
ARBs work by blocking a naturally-occurring chemical called angiotensin II, which narrows blood vessels by causing the surrounding muscles to contract. By blocking this chemical, Benicar prevents the narrowing of blood vessels, thus making it easier for blood to pump through the vessels. Unfortunately, while Benicar is effective at lowering blood pressure, it also comes with a risk of painful, and potentially life-threatening side effects. If you are taking Benicar or a similar drug, it may be wise to discuss these risks with your doctor.
Benicar is the Third Most Widely Prescribed Hypertension Drug
Benicar remains quite popular. In 2012, an estimated 10.6 million people received prescriptions for Benicar or a related drug. In August of that year, the Mayo Clinic published a study highlighting an influx of cases involving symptoms that mimicked those related to Celiac disease. Among those studied, 100% suffered from chronic diarrhea, 100% experienced significant weight loss, nearly 70% suffered from nausea, half suffered from abdominal pain, and more than 40% experienced bloating. Continue reading