September 24, 2014 — French researchers have confirmed dozens of cases of sprue-like enteropathy in patients on Benicar (olmesartan), confirming other studies suggesting a causal connection to this serious side effect.
The study was published earlier this month in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Conclusions of the study were based on data from 36 people in France who had enteropathy after taking Benicar, including 31 who were hospitalized and 4 who needed treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU).
There were 32 patients with severe damage to the intestines (intestinal villous atrophy). This complication occurs when the lining of the intestines flattens and fails to absorb nutrients from food. It can cause chronic problems with digestion and malnutrition. Surprisingly, four patients who had enteropathy from Benicar did not have intestinal villous atrophy.
Patients with the most severe symptoms had chronic diarrhea (up to 20 times per day), vomiting, acute kidney failure, life-threatening weight-loss, hypokalemia (low potassium), chronic abdominal pain, and metabolic alkalosis.
Researchers studied 10 cases in which patients with enteropathy stopped Benicar and re-started the drug. In 9 out of 10 cases, patients improved when they stopped taking Benicar. In all 10 cases, patients got worse after re-starting Benicar. This led researchers to conclude that Benicar can probably cause sprue-like enteropathy.
The researchers warned:
“This study shows that olmesartan causes severe and potentially life-threatening enteropathy with or without villous atrophy. It appears to be a new disease that differs from other immune-mediated enteropathies, such as coeliac disease, lupus-associated protein-losing enteropathies and autoimmune enteropathies.”
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