Benicar maker Daiichi Sankyo has been ordered to pay $39 million to resolve claims that the drug company illegally paid kickbacks to physicians who prescribed the controversial blood pressure medication and certain other drugs to patients. The FBI announced the Benicar kickback settlement agreement on January 9, indicating that the $39 million payment will settle allegations that Daiichi Sankyo committed Medicare fraud and violated the False Claims Act by offering payments and lavish meals to doctors who prescribed Benicar, Tribenzor, Azor and Welchol to patients. If you took Benicar in the past, and you have since been diagnosed with a side effect like sprue-like enteropathy or villous atrophy, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help put you in touch with an attorney who has experience handling Benicar injury claims.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, the kickbacks in question occurred between January 1, 2004 and March 31, 2011, and came in the form of honoraria payments, meals and other benefits for doctors. “Drug companies are prohibited from using lavish entertainment and padded speaker program payments to induce physicians to prescribe their drugs for beneficiaries of federal health care programs,” said Carmen M. Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, in an FBI press release. “Settlements like this one show that the government will continue to pursue health care companies that use kickbacks to promote their products.” Investigators say the drug maker even offered payments to doctors when they spoke only to their own staff in their offices, or even to their own spouses.
The Benicar kickback settlement is the latest in a series of problems plaguing Daiichi Sankyo and its blockbuster blood pressure medication. Over the past several years, a growing body of research has identified Benicar use as a potential risk factor for a number of serious side effects, including chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms similar to Celiac disease. In July 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication warning consumers and medical professionals that side effects of Benicar may cause a condition known as sprue-like enteropathy to develop months or even years after the drug is first used, leading to symptoms like weight loss, chronic diarrhea and other major gastrointestinal injuries.
Unfortunately, because Daiichi Sankyo allegedly withheld critical information about the potential link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy, many patients’ Benicar-related side effects have been misdiagnosed as Celiac disease, and use of the blood pressure drug has continued. And, while the diarrhea symptoms associated with sprue-like enteropathy typically resolve when use of the medication is terminated, studies have shown that the problems can sometimes cause permanent intestinal damage known as villous atrophy. In light of these significant risks, Daiichi Sankyo faces a growing number of Benicar lawsuits filed against the company over side effects like chronic diarrhea, sprue-like enteropathy and villous atrophy. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of Benicar, contact a reputable Benicar lawyer today for legal help.