Severe, chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss has been reported in patients taking olmesartan months to years after drug initiation. Intestinal biopsies of patients often demonstrated villous atrophy. If a patient develops these symptoms during treatment with olmesartan, exclude other etiologies. Consider alternative antihypertensive therapy in cases where no other etiology is identified.
Serum potassium should be monitored in patients receiving Benicar. Drugs that inhibit the renin angiotensin system can cause hyperkalemia. Risk factors for the development of hyperkalemia include renal insufficiency, diabetes mellitus, and the concomitant use of potassium-sparing diuretics, potassium supplements and/or potassium-containing salt substitutes [see Drug Interactions (7.3)].
Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
Benicar has been evaluated for safety in more than 3825 patients/subjects, including more than 3275 patients treated for hypertension in controlled trials. This experience included about 900 patients treated for at least 6 months and more than 525 for at least 1 year. Events generally were mild, transient and had no relationship to the dose of Benicar.
Analysis of gender, age and race groups demonstrated no differences between Benicar and placebo-treated patients. The rate of withdrawals due to adverse reactions in all trials of hypertensive patients was 2.4% (i.e., 79/3278) of patients treated with Benicar and 2.7% (i.e., 32/1179) of control patients. In placebo-controlled trials, the only adverse reaction that occurred in more than 1% of patients treated with Benicar and at a higher incidence versus placebo was dizziness (3% vs. 1%).
Facial edema was reported in five patients receiving Benicar. Angioedema has been reported with angiotensin II antagonists.
No relevant differences were identified between the adverse experience profile for pediatric patients aged 1 to 16 years and that previously reported for adult patients.
The following adverse reactions have been reported in post-marketing experience. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Body as a Whole: Asthenia, angioedema, anaphylactic reactions
Gastrointestinal: Vomiting, sprue-like enteropathy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Hyperkalemia
Urogenital System: Acute renal failure, increased blood creatinine levels
Skin and Appendages: Alopecia, pruritus, urticaria
Data from one controlled trial and an epidemiologic study have suggested that high-dose olmesartan may increase cardiovascular (CV) risk in diabetic patients, but the overall data are not conclusive. The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind ROADMAP trial (Randomized Olmesartan And Diabetes MicroAlbuminuria Prevention trial, n=4447) examined the use of olmesartan, 40 mg daily, vs. placebo in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, normoalbuminuria, and at least one additional risk factor for CV disease. The trial met its primary endpoint, delayed onset of microalbuminuria, but olmesartan had no beneficial effect on decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR). There was a finding of increased CV mortality (adjudicated sudden cardiac death, fatal myocardial infarction, fatal stroke, revascularization death) in the olmesartan group compared to the placebo group (15 olmesartan vs. 3 placebo, HR 4.9, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4, 17), but the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction was lower with olmesartan (HR 0.64, 95% CI 0.35, 1.18).
The epidemiologic study included patients 65 years and older with overall exposure of > 300,000 patient-years. In the sub-group of diabetic patients receiving high-dose olmesartan (40 mg/d) for > 6 months, there appeared to be an increased risk of death (HR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1, 3.8) compared to similar patients taking other angiotensin receptor blockers. In contrast, high-dose olmesartan use in non-diabetic patients appeared to be associated with a decreased risk of death (HR 0.46, 95% CI 0.24, 0.86) compared to similar patients taking other angiotensin receptor blockers. No differences were observed between the groups receiving lower doses of olmesartan compared to other angiotensin blockers or those receiving therapy for < 6 months.
Overall, these data raise a concern of a possible increased CV risk associated with the use of high-dose olmesartan in diabetic patients. There are, however, concerns with the credibility of the finding of increased CV risk, notably the observation in the large epidemiologic study for a survival benefit in non-diabetics of a magnitude similar to the adverse finding in diabetics.
Concomitant use of olmesartan with other agents that block the renin-angiotensin system, potassium-sparing diuretics (e.g., spironolactone, triamterene, amiloride), potassium supplements, salt substitutes containing potassium or other drugs that may increase potassium levels (e.g., heparin) may lead to increases in serum potassium. If co-medication is considered necessary, monitoring of serum potassium is advisable.
7.2 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents Including Selective Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitors (COX-2 Inhibitors)
In patients who are elderly, volume-depleted (including those on diuretic therapy), or with compromised renal function, co-administration of NSAIDs, including selective COX-2 inhibitors, with angiotensin II receptor antagonists, including olmesartan medoxomil, may result in deterioration of renal function, including possible acute renal failure. These effects are usually reversible. Monitor renal function periodically in patients receiving olmesartan medoxomil and NSAID therapy.
The antihypertensive effect of angiotensin II receptor antagonists, including olmesartan medoxomil, may be attenuated by NSAIDs including selective COX-2 inhibitors.
Dual blockade of the RAS with angiotensin receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors, or aliskiren is associated with increased risks of hypotension, hyperkalemia, and changes in renal function (including acute renal failure) compared to monotherapy. Most patients receiving the combination of two RAS inhibitors do not obtain any additional benefit compared to monotherapy. In general, avoid combined use of RAS inhibitors. Closely monitor blood pressure, renal function and electrolytes in patients on Benicar and other agents that affect the RAS.
Do not co-administer aliskiren with Benicar in patients with diabetes [see Contraindications (4)]. Avoid use of aliskiren with Benicar in patients with renal impairment (GFR <60 ml/min).
Increases in serum lithium concentrations and lithium toxicity have been reported during concomitant administration of lithium with angiotensin II receptor antagonists, including BENICAR. Monitor serum lithium levels during concomitant use.
Concurrent administration of bile acid sequestering agent colesevelam hydrochloride reduces the systemic exposure and peak plasma concentration of olmesartan. Administration of olmesartan at least 4 hours prior to colesevelam hydrochloride decreased the drug interaction effect. Consider administering olmesartan at least 4 hours before the colesevelam hydrochloride dose [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].
Benicar can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Use of drugs that act on the renin-angiotensin system during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy reduces fetal renal function and increases fetal and neonatal morbidity and death. Most epidemiologic studies examining fetal abnormalities after exposure to antihypertensive use in the first trimester have not distinguished drugs affecting the renin-angiotensin system from other antihypertensive agents. In animal reproduction studies, Benicar treatment during organogenesis resulted in increased embryofetal toxicity in rats at doses lower than maternally toxic doses.
When pregnancy is detected, discontinue Benicar as soon as possible. Consider alternative antihypertensive therapy during pregnancy.
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2%–4% and 15%–20%, respectively.
Disease-Associated Maternal and/or Embryo/Fetal Risk
Hypertension in pregnancy increases the maternal risk for pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature delivery, and delivery complications (e.g., need for cesarean section and post-partum hemorrhage). Hypertension increases the fetal risk for intrauterine growth restriction and intrauterine death. Pregnant women with hypertension should be carefully monitored and managed accordingly.
Fetal/Neonatal Adverse Reactions
Oligohydramnios in pregnant women who use drugs affecting the renin-angiotensin system in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in the following: reduced fetal renal function leading to anuria and renal failure, fetal lung hypoplasia, skeletal deformations, including skull hypoplasia, hypotension and death.
In patients taking Benicar during pregnancy, perform serial ultrasound examinations to assess the intra-amniotic environment. Fetal testing may be appropriate, based on the week of gestation. Patients and physicians should be aware, however, that oligohydramnios may not appear until after the fetus has sustained irreversible injury.
Closely observe infants with histories of in utero exposure to Benicar for hypotension, oliguria, and hyperkalemia. In neonates with a history of in utero exposure to Benicar, if oliguria or hypotension occurs, utilize measures to maintain adequate blood pressure and renal perfusion. Exchange transfusions or dialysis may be required as a means of reversing hypotension and supporting renal function.
No teratogenic effects were observed when olmesartan medoxomil was administered to pregnant rats at oral doses up to 1000 mg/kg/day (240 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m2 basis) or pregnant rabbits at oral doses up to 1 mg/kg/day (half the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis; higher doses could not be evaluated for effects on fetal development as they were lethal to the does). In rats, significant decreases in pup birth weight and weight gain were observed at doses ≥1.6 mg/kg/day, and delays in developmental milestones (delayed separation of ear auricula, eruption of lower incisors, appearance of abdominal hair, descent of testes, and separation of eyelids) and dose-dependent increases in the incidence of dilation of the renal pelvis were observed at doses ≥ 8 mg/kg/day. The no observed effect dose for developmental toxicity in rats is 0.3 mg/kg/day, about one-tenth the MRHD of 40 mg/day.
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