Pharmaceutical giant Daiichi Sankyo, maker of the blood pressure drug Benicar, will begin laying off 16 percent of its U.S. staff at its headquarters in Parsippany, NJ. The company has also announced plans to cut even more staff starting in mid-April.
Sankyo’s most recent nine-month report indicates that the company’s North American revenue increased 6 percent from the previous year but fell by 1.5 percent in terms of local currency. The report also says that sales of Benicar, Sankyo’s brand-name olmesartan, declined as a result of increased market competition.
Benicar was approved by the FDA for use as a blood pressure drug in 2002. Since then, it has been used by over 11 million Americans. Unfortunately, Benicar has repeatedly been linked in studies to serious gastrointestinal side effects. In 2013, the FDA issued a warning to doctors and patients that Benicar and similar blood pressure medications are associated with a gastrointestinal condition called sprue-like enteropathy, which is known to cause severe intestinal issues including chronic diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive weight loss. Following their findings, the FDA announced that the label on Benicar would be changed to reflect the recently associated health risks.
Roughly one dozen plaintiffs have stepped forward and filed Benicar lawsuits against Sankyo. Plaintiffs in Benicar lawsuits seek yet-unspecified damages for claims including defective product design, breach of warranty, negligence, and fraud.
Falling sales were not the only problem Sankyo struggled with over the past year. In January, Sankyo agreed to pay $39 million in damages and penalties to settle a nationwide lawsuit accusing the company of handing out kickbacks to promote certain drugs including Benicar. The lawsuit stemmed from a whistleblower complaint made in 2010 by a former Sankyo employee. Investigations into the complaint found the company guilty of giving out exorbitant speaker program fees and lavish meals to doctors and physicians in return for recommending or selling its drugs Azor, Welchol, Tribenzor, and Benicar.
Of the $39 million to be paid by Sankyo, roughly $10 million will go to state and federal Medicaid programs, and approximately $5 million will be divided among Washington, DC, and the 49 U.S. states that took part in the lawsuit.
Be sure to consult your doctor or physician whenever changing medications. If you or someone you know suffered a serious side effect such as sprue-like enteropathy after taking Benicar, contact the lawyers at Lopez McHugh for a free consultation. You may qualify for compensation through a Benicar lawsuit.