Benicar and Celiac Disease Diagnosis, Unclassified Sprue

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted May 21, 2014


For years, side effects of Benicar have caused users to experience symptoms similar to celiac disease, with chronic diarrhea, weight loss and other severe gastrointestinal problems.

Due to a lack of warnings about the link between Benicar and these symptoms, the problems have often been misdiagnosed as celiac disease or unclassified sprue, resulting in continued use of the popular blood pressure drug and permanent bowel damage for many users.

The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential Benicar lawsuits for individuals throughout the United States who have experienced severe gastrointestinal problems after being told that they may have celiac disease or another condition resulting in:

  • Chronic Diarrhea, Nausea and Vomiting
  • Substantial Weight Loss
  • Villous Atrophy

UPDATE: On August 1, 2017, a $300 million Benicar settlement was reached with the drug makers to resolve certain claims for injuries stemming from use of Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor or Tribenzor prior to May 2015.

Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. is longer reviewing new cases. The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only.

Information about the potential link between Benicar and celiac disease symptoms was first raised by a study published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings in August 2012, reporting on 22 cases involving patients treated for celiac disease while taking Benicar.

Researchers found that while a connection between the symptoms and use of Benicar was not immediately apparent, when the hypertension drug was discontinued patients showed improvement and the chronic diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems returned when Benicar use was restarted.

Benicar Celiac Disease-Like Side Effects

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in pain or discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation, diarrhea and fatigue in result to gluten in the diet.

The condition only occurs among individuals with a genetic predisposition and there is no known cure, with the only treatment being a gluten free diet. However, reports among users of Benicar diagnosed with celiac disease suggested that symptoms were not reduced by removing gluten from the diet. Rather, the problems only resolved after Benicar was no longer used.

In July 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety announcement (PDF) to warn doctors about a link between symptoms similar to celiac disease and Benicar use, indicating that users may actually be suffering from a medical condition known as sprue-like enteropathy.

The FDA indicated that there is “clear evidence” that Benicar was causing these problems, not celiac disease itself. The agency noted that a review of case reports suggest that the symptoms can begin months or even years after treatment with Benicar begins, often resulting in repeated hospitalization for severe and chronic diarrhea.

In many cases, these long-term diarrhea problems resulted in damage to the intestines known as villous atrophy, which occurs when the microscopic tentacles that line the wall of the small intestine erode. This is a serious medical problem, interfering with the absorption of nutrients and reducing digestive capabilities. Often Benicar users suffering villous atrophy experience chronic malnutrition and dehydration.

Benicar and Unclassified Sprue

Sprue-like enteropathy is the medical term now used by the FDA and doctors to describe problems experienced by users of Benicar.

In addition to a misdiagnosis of celiac disease, many former users were previously categorized with “unclassified sprue” while taking Benicar, since doctors were unaware of the link between the medication and the symptoms.

Sprue is generally used to describe chronic disease that is characterized by diarrhea and ulceration of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, which results from malabsorption of nutrients from the small intestines. It is commonly used interchangeably to describe celiac disease.

Unclassified sprue is typically considered a “wastebasket diagnosis” where the precise cause can not be determined and the individual does not appear to have celiac disease.

Since the discovery of the link between Benicar and sprue-like symptoms, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of cases of unclassified sprue diagnosed. In 2012, it was reported that a diagnosis of unclassified sprue was made in 33% of patients with villous atrophy that was not caused by celiac disease. In 2013, after information as provided to the medical community about the association between Benicar and enteropathy, the percentage of unclassified sprue diagnosis dropped to 14%, which is a decrease of 30% compared to when the link was unknown.

Benicar Celiac Disease Lawsuits

The Benicar lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential lawsuits for individuals throughout the United States who have been hospitalized or required repeated medical treatment for symptoms that may have been caused by sprue-like enteropathy.

Evidence suggests that the drug maker knew or should have known about the potential risks, yet withheld information from consumers and the medical community. Therefore, financial compensation may be available through a Benicar settlement in cases where individuals were misdiagnosed with celiac disease, unclassified sprue or other gastrointestinal problems consistent with chronic diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration.

All cases are handled by our attorneys under a contingency fee agreement, which means that there are never any out-of-pocket expenses to hire our law firm and we receive no fees or expense reimbursement unless we are successful obtaining a recovery in the case.


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