Business / Corporate

Daiichi Sankyo settles U.S. lawsuits over intestinal damage from blood-pressure drugs, paying $300 million

Bloomberg

Daiichi Sankyo Inc. has settled thousands of lawsuits alleging its blood-pressure drugs caused intestinal damage, bringing to $339 million the amount the drugmaker has paid over the medicines.

Daiichi officials agreed Monday to pay $300 million to resolve patient suits over its blood-pressure treatments Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor and Tribenzor.

The accord, under which the Tokyo-based company didn’t admit wrongdoing, comes more than two years after it paid $39 million to resolve the U.S. government’s allegation that it had 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.

Glenn Gormley, the company’s executive chairman, said in a statement, “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.”

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

The settlement will provide larger payouts to users who suffered more serious injuries. The accord requires 95 percent of all plaintiffs who have 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 whistleblower 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 blood-pressure medicines in the U.S.

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