Treating high blood pressure is a concern for people all over the world, including Tennessee. One option is a pharmaceutical drug called Benicar, which is designed to block a hormone that causes the blood vessels to tighten and narrow. With the hormone blocked, the blood vessels are able to widen, thus improving blood flow and lower a person’s blood pressure. However, a recent study shows that this commonly prescribed drug carries its own risks.
According to HealthDay, a study performed at the Mayo Clinicinvolved 22 patients experiencing symptoms similar to celiac disease while taking Benicar (which contains the active ingredient olmesartan). Celiac disease causes severe gastrointestinal issues due to an underlying gluten allergy, with symptoms ranging from bloating to chronic diarrhea and weight loss. However, patients exhibited none of the antibodies common in those suffering from celiac disease, and all experienced an improvement of their symptoms once drug treatments were stopped.
While it’s not yet understood why Benicar causes these symptoms, its effects remain extremely troubling. Of the 22 patients taking the drug, 14 ultimately required hospitalization. Patients also experienced significant weight loss, with an average decrease of 40 pounds recorded throughout the group. Results like these have doctors calling for further research to ensure patient safety remains upheld.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aware of the side effects associated with Benicar. In 2013 the agency approved label changes for the drug, which now lists intestinal symptoms as part of the warning. The FDA also cautioned medical professionals to carefully monitor these symptoms in patients taking Benicar, and recommended discontinuing usage if no other underlying cause is found.