Why Are There Blood Pressure Drugs Lawsuits?
It has been shown that companies that produce blood pressure drugs were aware of dangerous side effects but failed to report how lethal the side effects may be. These companies may have failed to inform doctors and patients all of the side effects in efforts to keep their drugs on the market.
Why Have Plaintiffs Filed Blood Pressure Drug Lawsuits?
Multiple blood pressure drugs have been shown to increase the risk of serious side effects in the patients who take them. For instance, the drug Lisinopril has been associated with liver damage, while another drug, Micardis, has been connected to causing cancer in patients.
A list of extreme side effects that may have caused plaintiffs to file lawsuits include:
- Kidney damage or failure
- Fetal morbidity and death
- Deformed lungs
- Skull and skeletal deformities
- Neonatal morbidity and death
- Inability to pass urine
- Low blood pressure
- Increased potassium levels
- Allergic reactions
Which Blood Pressure Medications Are Associated With Lawsuits?
There are a multitude of blood pressure medications that have received scrutiny for their adverse effects.
The list includes:
What Blood Pressure Drug Lawsuit Settlements Have There Been?
Since there are many blood pressure drugs, lawsuits involving hypertension medications have been conducted differently, with some still in progress and others being settled already.
In 2017, there was a settlement of $300 million to around 2,500 victims. The main drugs in this settlement were the blood pressure medications Benicar, Benicar HCT, Tribenzor, and Azor.
For other drugs like Micardis, Atacand, and Lisinopril, there have been no active settlements and lawsuits may be ongoing.
What Blood Pressure Drug Lawsuits Are Ongoing Now?
Currently, there is a lawsuit ongoing for blood pressure medications which may have contained N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), potential cancer-causing substances. The blood pressure drug under investigation is a drug known as Lotensin and its generic form, valsartan. Not all batches of valsartan were contaminated, but many people who took valsartan have filed lawsuits seeking compensation.
What Are Blood Pressure Drugs?
Blood pressure drugs are split into several different categories that are all intended to reduce blood pressure but may work differently from one another.
The different categories of blood pressure include:
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha-2 receptor agonists
- Combined alpha and beta-blockers
Most lawsuits have been filed over ARBs and ACE inhibitors.
What Are ARBs?
ARBs are a kind of blood pressure drug that helps reduce high blood pressure. They’re used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure, so they’re often prescribed after heart attacks. These drugs work by blocking the effects of angiotensin, a chemical that causes the arteries to constrict. This means blood vessels stay open and blood pressure is reduced.
How Do ARBs Work?
ARBs reduce the action of the hormone angiotensin II. This hormone has a powerful constricting effect on blood vessels, increasing blood pressure. Angiotensin II also stimulates salt and water retention in the body, which further increases blood pressure.
ARBs work by blocking receptors that the hormone acts on, specifically AT1 receptors, which are found in the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Blocking the action of angiotensin II helps to lower blood pressure and prevent damage to the heart and kidneys.
What Are ACE Inhibitors?
ACE inhibitors have similar properties to ARBs, and the drugs are often used interchangeably. ACE inhibitors also reduce the effect of angiotensin, but by decreasing the amount your body makes, rather than blocking receptors.
Who Manufacturers Blood Pressure Drugs?
Since there are a number of blood pressure medications, there are also multiple manufacturers. Novartis, Solco, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Torrent Pharmaceuticals have all named Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. as being the supplier and manufacturer of valsartan used in their medications. Other manufacturers of blood pressure drugs are AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis AG, and Pfizer Inc.
When Were ARBs and Ace Inhibitors Approved by the FDA?
The first ACE Inhibitor, Captopril, was approved by the FDA in 1981 to treat hypertension. The ACE Inhibitor, enalapril was approved in 1985, lisinopril was approved by the FDA in 1987 and many more have followed.
In 1995, the first ARB, losartan, was approved by the FDA. Since then, six other ARBs including olmesartan, have been approved by the FDA.
What Are ARBs and ACE Inhibitors Prescribed To Treat?
Since ACE Inhibitors and ARBs are similar, they’re both used for similar treatments. They’re commonly used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure and are often prescribed to patients after they’ve experienced a heart attack.
Additionally, ARBs are often used to treat chronic kidney disease.
What Are the Side Effects of Blood Pressure Drugs?
Generally, all blood pressure medications may cause these common side effects:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Erection problems
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling tired, weak, drowsy, or a lack of energy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rash
- Weight loss or gain without trying
Additionally, some of the more adverse effects of blood pressure drugs may include:
- Birth defects
- Upper respiratory infections
- Kidney Diseases
- Cancer (liver, kidney, colorectal, stomach, bladder, pancreatic)
If you experience any of the following side effects, you should contact your doctor:
- Trouble breathing
- Racing Heart
- Chest pain
- Facial or body swelling
What Are the FDA’s Warnings About Blood Pressure Drugs?
The relationship between the FDA and different blood pressure medications is long and arduous. Most recently warnings/recalls occurred in 2018 due to cancer-related impurities found in certain medications. Since then, the FDA has been updating the list of recalled drugs frequently. In addition to blood pressure drugs, a number of drugs in other categories have been linked to similar chemical contaminants.
The ACE inhibitor, lisinopril also has a black box warning for potential birth defects that may occur if pregnant individuals take the blood pressure medication.
Other blood pressure medications may also cause side effects and carry stringent warnings.
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.