Many patients have experienced moderate to severe side effects while taking Benicar (olmesartan), a drug used to treat hypertension. The most common side effects include dizziness and nausea, although in extreme cases patients have experienced kidney failure, gastrointestinal injuries, and even death.

Benicar poses serious risks to pregnant women, fetuses, and newborn children, and can be fatal. It should not be taken while pregnant, or given to children under the age of one.

Common Side Effects of Benicar

Some patients have experienced one or more side effect while taking Benicar. The most common side effect is dizziness, with around 3% of adults on the drug experiencing this at some point. Other less severe side effects of Benicar include:

Common Benicar Side Effects
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and cramps
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bronchitis
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood sugar
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Spinning sensation
  • Itching
  • Skin rashes
  • Congestion or irritation of the sinuses
  • Hair loss
  • Coughing

If you are concerned about any of these side effects, speak to your doctor.

Severe Side Effects of Benicar

When taking any drug, it is important to understand the risks and know which symptoms to watch out for. Speak to your doctor before taking Benicar, and seek medical help if you experience any of the following severe side effects while using the drug:

  • Blood in urine
  • Low blood pressure (which may result in dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and blurred vision)
  • Chest Pain
  • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat)
  • Symptoms of renal failure (including swelling, fatigue, and shortness of breath)
  • Chills
  • Depression

Certain side effects may indicate a severe allergic reaction to the drug, which can be life threatening. These include hives, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, and swelling in the mouth, tongue, or face. If you experience any of these side effects while taking olmesartan, seek immediate medical attention. Before taking the drug, tell your doctor if you have any drug allergies that may result in an allergic reaction.

Other serious conditions can result from taking Benicar, and the impact of these can be lifelong. Below is a summary of potential complications patients may experience, and the symptoms to watch out for.

Benicar and Kidney Problems

While benicar is used to treat high blood pressure to prevent other serious conditions such as kidney failure from developing, some patients have experienced kidney problems as a result of taking the drug. Swelling in the feet, hands, or ankles are common indicators of kidney problems. Other signs include rapid weight gain (typically as a result of fluid retention) and puffiness in the face. You may also feel unexpectedly cold, unusually tired, and/or experience a sudden loss in appetite.

Kidney problems often lead to other serious conditions and can be fatal. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms of kidney problems while using Benicar.

Benicar and Sprue-like Enteropathy

A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2012 revealed that Benicar is associated with a gastrointestinal disease called sprue-like enteropathy. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved changes to the label of Benicar in 2013 to reflect this severe side effect. Many patients require hospitalization after developing this condition.

The most common and severe symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy are chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and extreme weight loss. Patients participating in the Mayo Clinic study experienced chronic diarrhea lasting more than a year and an average individual weight loss of 40 lbs. Some participants also experienced villous atrophy, a degradation of the lining of the small intestine affecting the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. In some cases, symptoms of malnourishment were noted. Malnourishment can lead to numerous long-term health problems including slower recovery after injury or disease, decreased mobility due to muscle wastage, and death.

Sprue-like enteropathy can also cause dehydration, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. It can develop slowly, with patients often experiencing symptoms months or even years after first taking Benicar. Sprue-like enteropathy may be mistaken for like celiac’s disease, but since it is medically induced, it is not affected by a gluten-free diet. Due to the similar symptoms, misdiagnoses have occurred in the past, so users of Benicar should alert their doctor immediately that they are taking the drug when seeking medical assistance.

The FDA recommends that patients who develop sprue-like enteropathy as a result of the drug should stop taking Benicar at once.

Benicar and Fetal Toxicity

The active ingredient in Benicar can cause fetal kidney failure, sometimes resulting in fetal death. Studies have shown that taking medicines to regulate blood pressure or the sodium concentration in the blood stream can have harmful and even fatal effects on a fetus.

For this reason, Benicar carries a black box warning against using the drug while pregnant or to treat infants under the age of one. The FDA uses black box warnings to indicate serious or potentially life-threatening side effects that a drug may cause. If you are currently or suspect that you may be pregnant, stop taking Benicar.

FDA Findings Concerning Benicar and Heart Problems

In 2010, the FDA conducted a study to determine whether Benicar increases the risk of heart-related deaths, based on the results of two clinical trials. In both trials, diabetic patients who took olmesartan had a higher rate of cardiac-related deaths than those who took a placebo. At the end of the review, which took more than four years to accomplish, the FDA said there was “no clear evidence” that Benicar increased the risk of heart-related deaths.

In May 2012, the Mayo Clinic discovered a link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy, symptoms of which include excessive diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and weight loss. In extreme cases, these severe symptoms could lead to permanent disability and possibly even death. Additional studies confirmed the findings later in 2012, and in 2013 the FDA required Daiichi Sankyo to add a new warning to Benicar label.

Lawsuits from Benicar Side Effects

If you or someone you love has experienced negative side effects while taking Benicar, you may be eligible to file a claim. To date, over 1,900 Benicar lawsuits have been filed against Daiichi Sankyo, the manufacturer of Benicar, by patients who have experienced gastrointestinal issues while taking the drug.