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Composite image (bottles from www.empr.com; woman holding stomach from www.medtruth.com).
Composite image (bottles from www.empr.com; woman holding stomach from www.medtruth.com).

Almost two and a half years after the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the Benicar MDL, the parties reached a $300M settlement. At issue was whether the manufacturers, Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories, knew or should have known and failed to warn consumers that Benicar, a popular high blood pressure medication, may cause severe gastro-intestinal problems, such as diarrhea (up to 10 or 20 incidents per day for some plaintiffs), extreme weight loss of up to 75 – 100 pounds, malnutrition, and sprue-like enteropathy.

The settlement was entered into voluntarily by both parties and the court was advised this morning. As is the case with most settlements, “Daiichi Sankyo, Forest, and all other Released Persons deny any liability or wrongdoing.” In other words, no one is taking responsibility for the injuries, but the parties agree that it’s in everyone’s best interests to put the litigation to rest. This involves establishing a private settlement program designed to distribute the $300M among those who enroll in the program.

Benicar package; image courtesy of www.rxresource.org.
Benicar package; image courtesy of www.rxresource.org.

That is something important to note. Participation in the settlement program is not automatic. Plaintiff members of the MDL, as well as those with active cases not yet transferred into the MDL, and those who have suffered injuries but not yet filed suit must all take some type of action in order to participate. As a private settlement agreement, there will be a claims administrator and a Special Master to work through any disputes, however, the settlement does not require court approval.

For those who have been injured by Benicar but who have not yet filed suit, it is vital that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. According to the settlement agreement, those with unfiled cases who allege “an injury occurring in the United States on or prior to August 1, 2017 resulting from the use of Olmesartan Products [Benicar] taken by such person on or prior to May 1, 2015” must show that they have hired a lawyer on or before AUGUST 23, 2017 AT 11:59PM and file the necessary documents as found on the program website. Failure to do so will bar those injured from participating in the program.

Those who are represented and/or part of the MDL should consult their respective lawyers for assistance with program enrollment.

The website, Olmesartan Product Litigation Settlement, has a full copy of the settlement and its terms, in addition to the necessary forms.

A full copy of the Olmesartan Master Settlement Agreement can be read by clicking on the link.

It’s gratifying to report that there is an end in sight for those who have been injured by this product. It will take some time to get the program underway – the website is not, in fact, accepting enrollees at the time of this writing – but at least compensation for injuries and the associated losses will be coming soon.

We’ll update the story as more information becomes available.

Sources:

Olmesartan Product Litigation Settlement
Olmesartan Master Settlement Agreement

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