Drug Company Takes The High Ground On The Benicar Lawsuit

A Japanese drug maker is agreeing to pay up
to $300 million to settle 2,000 U.S. cases against them. These cases, which amount to over 2,000, are
accusing the company of failing to warn users that its blood pressure medication, Benicar,
can cause serious gastrointestinal illness. Joining me to talk about this is Daniel Nigh. Daniel, first of all, I guess, kudos to the
corporation that is willing to stand up and say, okay, let’s try to make this right with
consumers. We’re not used to seeing that in this business. Most pharmaceutical manufacturers, no matter
what their conduct is, will do everything they can to avoid making the consumer that
may be suffering some illness from their product, to avoid actually paying that consumer for
those kinds of damages. I think I want to begin this by saying kudos
to the management of this corporation, who said we saw something wrong, we’re trying
to correct it. What’s your take on that, Daniel? I agree. It’s nice to see that the company has realized
the mistake that’s been made here and realized the number of people who have been injured
by this. We believe that there’s going to be upwards
of 2,500 claims that are made as a result of the problems with using Benicar. Tell us, exactly what was Benicar used to
treat? This is a very popular medication, and what
were the results of that treatment? It is. Benicar is designed to treat for somebody’s
hypertension, high blood pressure. What we’re seeing is that it’s a blockbuster
drug. There’s over a billion dollars in revenue
for this drug. It’s a very popular drug. There’s been numerous years where they’ve
sold over a billion dollars in revenue alone. What’s the science behind the drug? What’s happening? What do these studies show about the potential
bad effects that Benicar has been able to demonstrate with its use? After the Benicar is ingested, when it’s being
metabolized in the small intestine, it kills off the villi in the small intestine. The villi are the red blood cells that are
responsible for absorbing the vast majority of food and water into our bodies. For these patients, when their villi is killed
off, all their food and water is running right through their body. Of course, it causes massive diarrhea, but
it’s so much more serious than that. A person not being able to absorb their food
and water into their body is causing severe malnutrition, dehydration, and we’re oftentimes
seeing our clients landing in the hospital as a result of renal failure and other very
significant problems. Celiac disease, it actually resembles a celiac
disease, from what I understand. That’s not just a short-term problem, that’s
a long-term problem for some of these patients, isn’t it? Oftentimes, they become completely disabled
for long, long periods of time with a celiac type of disease. That’s right, it does mimic celiac disease,
because celiac disease also kills off the villi inside of somebody’s body when they
ingest gluten. This has a similar reaction, and there are
a lot of clients out there who may still not realize that Benicar is causing their problems. They were told by their doctor that they have
celiac disease, whereas the entire time, it very well could have been that it’s just Benicar. When they go off the Benicar, your villi will
oftentimes regenerate and then you’ll be able to start to absorb food and water again. We have clients who have been hospitalized
upwards of over 90 days in the hospital, never realizing that it was Benicar the entire time. They thought they had celiac disease. Once they were finally informed that Benicar
was the culprit of their problems, they got off the Benicar and they saw a substantial
improvement thereafter. What I find so remarkable about this particular
fact situation, Daniel, is that you, I remember you finding these facts, you finding this
connection between Benicar and these types of gastrointestinal, very serious gastrointestinal
diseases. I just have to ask myself, why wouldn’t a
doctor, why wouldn’t the doctor who is in the business of prescribing medicine, how
does it happen that they typically aren’t up with the latest information about the bad
illnesses that might be caused by any particular drug? How does that happen that the very GP that
might be treating this person doesn’t even know that there’s tons of material out there
on the market that says this is what you need to be aware of? How does that happen? It’s really quite surprising. The warning label was changed to reflect that
it can cause these spur-like enteropathy changes or serious gastrointestinal issues inside
of a person. We’re seeing all the time that, even as of
today, people are still on the Benicar, they’re asking their doctors about this problem, the
doctors are just downplaying it, they don’t understand that Benicar could be the culprit
of their serious gastrointestinal issues. I think what’s happening is a general practitioner
has so many different medications that they’re prescribing day in and day out, that they’re
not realizing the side effects of this issue. The other thing is, the people that are treating
for the problem, the gastroenterologist, those treaters are not the ones responsible for
prescribing this medication. When that occurs, we oftentimes see that the
information doesn’t trickle down to the right folks. Isn’t that another part of it? You’ve got somebody sitting at home, they
see advertisements on television. As they’re watching the nightly news, typically
they’re watching 11 drug company advertisements just in the nightly news. The only other country in the world that even
allows drug companies to advertise is New Zealand. Aren’t we seeing the bad effects of that? Aren’t we seeing where, used to be, a doctor
had to understand something, they had to do the research, they had to do the hard work
to figure out, what was the drug for this person? Now we have patients walking into the doctor’s
office saying, ‘I want this drug because I saw it on the nightly news last night. I’d like to try it.’ Isn’t that a huge part of the problem here,
that we’ve got, they’re selling drugs like they sell soap in the United States, and they
don’t allow this to happen any other place except New Zealand. It’s a disaster for patients, and for doctors,
if you think about it, isn’t it? That’s exactly right. Doctors are getting it from all directions
now. They’re getting it from patients coming in,
requesting certain drugs that they saw in a commercial. The other route is the sales reps of the pharmaceutical
companies are very aggressive, because they’re making a profit themselves on everything that
they can get the doctor to sell. That’s the other part of the equation that
becomes a real problem. Pharmaceuticals are all about sales and less
about treatment. Daniel, thanks for being out there. Thanks for your hard work on this case. But for your efforts, and for a corporation
that is reasonable, they do want to take care of the consumers they’ve affected, and again,
I say kudos to that corporation. Thanks for joining me. Thank you, Pap.

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