A gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic revealed that a drug commonly used for treating blood pressure could lead to severe gastrointestinal side effects.
Dr Joseph Murray said that angiotensin II receptor antagonist (ARB) drug olmesartan, marketed under the brand name Benicar, could be linked to severe gastrointestinal symptoms similar to celiac disease such as intestinal inflammation, vomiting and diarrhea.
Dr Murray revealed that around 22 patients suffered from the symptoms during 2008 and 2011 with 14 of the patients requiring hospitalization. Doctors initially thought that the patients had celiac disease and tried to treat it with gluten-free diet without any success. The symptoms improved only when the patients stopped taking olmesartan.
Dr Murray added that the problem was very rare and patients should not stop taking olmesartan because of the finding. "The message to people taking this drug is that they should not stop their medications. If they're having GI problems, they should talk with their doctors", he said.