Benicar Side Effects + Can You Buy a Generic Benicar Version?




Benicar (generic name: olmesartan medoxomil) is a drug that treats high blood pressure. According to the company behind the drug, Benicar works by blocking angiotensin II which is “a natural chemical in your body that can raise blood pressure by causing blood vessels to tighten and narrow”. By blocking said chemical, Benicar helps blood vessels relax and widen thus preventing high blood pressure.

The most common side effect of Benicar is dizziness or lightheadednes. You can minimize this by rising up slowly from a sitting or lying down position.

And what about the less common but are the serious side effects of Benicar? The drug’s website, benicar.com, tells us that it may lead to the death of an unborn baby which is why you should NOT TAKE BENICAR WHEN YOU ARE PREGNANT. More from benicar.com:

Serious side effects may include injury or death to an unborn baby; low blood pressure (hypotension), which may cause you to feel faint or dizzy; and kidney problems, which may get worse in people with kidney disease. If you have kidney problems, you may need blood tests, and your doctor may need to lower your dose. Tell your doctor if you get swelling in your feet, ankles, or hands, or have unexplained weight gain. These may be signs of kidney problems. If you have heart failure, your doctor should also check your kidney function before prescribing these medicines. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Other serious side effects include allergic reactions (such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat), feeling that you might pass out, urinating less than usual or not at all, chest pain, and fast heart rate. It goes without saying that you should CONTACT OR GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR should you exhibit any of these serious side effects.

As mentioned, dizziness is a common but less serious side effect of Benicar. Other less serious side effects include dizziness, joint or muscle pain, back pain, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, mild itching or skin rash, and weakness.

Last year, after a drug safety review, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that the drug can cause intestinal problems. From fda.gov:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the blood pressure drug olmesartan medoxomil (marketed as Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor, Tribenzor, and generics) can cause intestinal problems known as sprue-like enteropathy. FDA has approved changes to the labels of these drugs to include this concern.

Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss. The enteropathy may develop months to years after starting olmesartan, and sometimes requires hospitalization (see Data Summary). If patients taking olmesartan develop these symptoms and no other cause is found, the drug should be discontinued, and therapy with another antihypertensive started. Discontinuation of olmesartan has resulted in clinical improvement of sprue-like enteropathy symptoms in all patients.

Benicar Generic. Is there a generic version for Benicar? If you are in the United States you can only find a generic version in 2016 when the patent protection for the drug expires. From Yahoo Answers:

Benicar is olmesartan medoxomil. In the USA is it protected by patent and will not be available as a generic until 2016. However if cost is an issue, return to your physician and let him/her know that, and you will get a script for another ARB (angiotensin II receptor blocker) that is generic.

According to the U.S. Patent Office (PDF File), the drug’s patent protection was originally scheduled to expire on 1 April 2014 but said Office granted Benicar “an expiration date of extension” after the drug was found to be eligible for patent term extension. The new expiration date is now 25 April 2016 which means that a more affordable generic version of the drug will be available following said patent expiration date.