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Daiichi's Benicar Pact Brings Payout Over Drugs to $339 Million

  • Drugmaker agreed to pay $300 million to settle Benicar suits
  • Company already paid $39 million in whistle-blower case

Daiichi Sankyo Inc.’s settlement of thousands of lawsuits blaming the company’s blood-pressure drugs for causing intestinal damage brings to $339 million the amount the drugmaker has paid for its handling of the medicines.

Daiichi officials agreed Monday to pay $300 million to resolve patient suits over its Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor blood-pressure treatments. The accord comes more than two years after the Chuo-Ku, Japan-based company paid $39 million to resolve the U.S. government’s allegations that it paid illegal kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the medicines.

The settlement was reached as a federal judge in Camden, New Jersey, prepared to schedule the first of more than 2,000 consolidated Benicar cases for trial, said Adam Slater, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers who helped negotiate the accord.

“This is a good settlement for thousands of people who suffered serious gastrointestinal problems because of this drug,’’ Slater said.

‘Best Interest’

“A settlement is in the best interest of all, and will allow us to continue our focus on bringing to market innovative medicines that help people live healthy and meaningful lives,’’ Glenn Gormley, the company’s executive chairman, said in a statement. The company didn’t admit wrongdoing as part of the accord.

Benicar users began suing the company in 2014 claiming executives knew the medicine could cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, diverticulitis, colitis and nausea and hid that information, Slater said.

The settlement will provide larger payouts to users who suffered more serious injuries from the drug, he added. The accord requires 95 percent of all plaintiffs who’ve sued to agree to the terms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Benicar in 2002. When later studies linked the drug and its successors to intestinal damage, regulators ordered Daiichi officials in 2013 to warn about that risk.

Two years later, the company agreed to pay the federal government $34 million and state Medicaid programs $5 million to resolve a whistle-blower suit. The complaint accused the drugmaker of violating federal laws by paying speaker fees to physicians who wrote large numbers of prescriptions.

The settlement also resolves claims against Forest Laboratories Inc., which sold Benicar and other Daiichi’s blood-pressure medicines in the U.S.

The consolidated Benicar case is In Re: Benicar Products Liability Litigation, 14-MD-2606, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Camden).

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