by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Olmesartan is mildly ototoxic—it can cause vertigo in some people, but that appears to be the least of your worries if you take this drug. Our drug watchdog, the FDA, in their latest email bulletin (1), reports:

The “FDA is evaluating data from two clinical trials in which patients with Type 2 diabetes taking the blood pressure medication, Benicar (Olmesartan), an angiotensin II receptor blocker, had a higher rate of death from a cardiovascular cause compared to patients taking a placebo.”

Notice that! Olmesartan, a high-blood pressure medication, causes death more often in those taking it, than in those who have high blood pressure but don’t take it!

This report admits, “An unexpected finding observed in both trials was a greater number of deaths from a cardiovascular cause (heart attack, sudden death, or stroke) in the Benicar-treated patients compared to placebo.” (1)

Now the reason you supposedly take a high blood pressure medication is to prevent heart attacks, strokes and sudden death—yet this drug apparently actually causes them—based on the results of not just one, but two, long-term studies.

After hearing this, any normal person would conclude that taking the drug could be dangerous to their health and quit taking it, yet does the FDA reach the same conclusion? Not on your life (and it is your life they are talking about)!

Here’s what they say. The “FDA’s review is ongoing and the Agency has not concluded that Benicar increases the risk of death.” (Yet the two studies they reviewed showed just the opposite.)

So what is their recommendation? You’re not going to believe it. (Remember, this is your tax dollars at work.)

The “FDA currently believes that the benefits of Benicar in patients with high blood pressure continue to outweigh its potential risks.”

What I want to know is what benefits are they talking about—since the supposed benefits of high-blood pressure medication are to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and sudden death—and these studies clearly show that taking this drug results in more heart attacks, strokes and sudden death!

As I have emphasized many times before, you must always consider all the side effects of drugs, not just their ototoxic side effects—although I typically only talk about the ototoxic side effects—because if a drug kills your body, your ears won’t work any more either!

(1) “FDA MedWatch – Benicar (Olmesartan) Ongoing Safety Review”. June 11, 2010.