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Benicar (Olmesartan Medoxomil) - Description and Clinical Pharmacology



Olmesartan medoxomil, a prodrug, is hydrolyzed to olmesartan during absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. Olmesartan is a selective AT1 subtype angiotensin II receptor antagonist.

Olmesartan medoxomil is described chemically as 2,3-dihydroxy-2-butenyl 4-(1 hydroxy-1-methylethyl)-2-propyl-1-[p-(o-1H-tetrazol-5-ylphenyl)benzyl]imidazole-5 carboxylate, cyclic 2,3-carbonate.

Its empirical formula is C29H30N6O6 and its structural formula is:

Olmesartan medoxomil is a white to light yellowish-white powder or crystalline powder with a molecular weight of 558.59. It is practically insoluble in water and sparingly soluble in methanol. Benicar is available for oral use as film-coated tablets containing 5 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg of olmesartan medoxomil and the following inactive ingredients: hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, low-substituted hydroxypropyl cellulose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, talc, titanium dioxide, and (5 mg only) yellow iron oxide.


Mechanism of Action

Angiotensin II is formed from angiotensin I in a reaction catalyzed by angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE, kininase II). Angiotensin II is the principal pressor agent of the renin-angiotensin system, with effects that include vasoconstriction, stimulation of synthesis and release of aldosterone, cardiac stimulation and renal reabsorption of sodium. Olmesartan blocks the vasoconstrictor effects of angiotensin II by selectively blocking the binding of angiotensin II to the AT1 receptor in vascular smooth muscle. Its action is, therefore, independent of the pathways for angiotensin II synthesis.

An AT2 receptor is found also in many tissues, but this receptor is not known to be associated with cardiovascular homeostasis. Olmesartan has more than a 12,500-fold greater affinity for the AT1 receptor than for the AT2 receptor.

Blockade of the renin-angiotensin system with ACE inhibitors, which inhibit the biosynthesis of angiotensin II from angiotensin I, is a mechanism of many drugs used to treat hypertension. ACE inhibitors also inhibit the degradation of bradykinin, a reaction also catalyzed by ACE. Because olmesartan medoxomil does not inhibit ACE (kininase II), it does not affect the response to bradykinin. Whether this difference has clinical relevance is not yet known.

Blockade of the angiotensin II receptor inhibits the negative regulatory feedback of angiotensin II on renin secretion, but the resulting increased plasma renin activity and circulating angiotensin II levels do not overcome the effect of olmesartan on blood pressure.


Benicar doses of 2.5 mg to 40 mg inhibit the pressor effects of angiotensin I infusion. The duration of the inhibitory effect was related to dose, with doses of Benicar >40 mg giving >90% inhibition at 24 hours.

Plasma concentrations of angiotensin I and angiotensin II and plasma renin activity (PRA) increase after single and repeated administration of Benicar to healthy subjects and hypertensive patients. Repeated administration of up to 80 mg Benicar had minimal influence on aldosterone levels and no effect on serum potassium.


Olmesartan medoxomil is rapidly and completely bioactivated by ester hydrolysis to olmesartan during absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

Benicar tablets and the suspension formulation prepared from Benicar tablets are bioequivalent [see Dosage and Administration ].

The absolute bioavailability of olmesartan is approximately 26%. After oral administration, the peak plasma concentration (Cmax) of olmesartan is reached after 1 to 2 hours. Food does not affect the bioavailability of olmesartan.

The volume of distribution of olmesartan is approximately 17 L. Olmesartan is highly bound to plasma proteins (99%) and does not penetrate red blood cells. The protein binding is constant at plasma olmesartan concentrations well above the range achieved with recommended doses.

In rats, olmesartan crossed the blood-brain barrier poorly, if at all. Olmesartan passed across the placental barrier in rats and was distributed to the fetus. Olmesartan was distributed to milk at low levels in rats.

Metabolism and Excretion
Following the rapid and complete conversion of olmesartan medoxomil to olmesartan during absorption, there is virtually no further metabolism of olmesartan. Total plasma clearance of olmesartan is 1.3 L/h, with a renal clearance of 0.6 L/h. Approximately 35% to 50% of the absorbed dose is recovered in urine while the remainder is eliminated in feces via the bile.

Olmesartan appears to be eliminated in a biphasic manner with a terminal elimination half-life of approximately 13 hours. Olmesartan shows linear pharmacokinetics following single oral doses of up to 320 mg and multiple oral doses of up to 80 mg. Steady-state levels of olmesartan are achieved within 3 to 5 days and no accumulation in plasma occurs with once-daily dosing.

The pharmacokinetics of olmesartan were studied in the elderly (≥65 years). Overall, maximum plasma concentrations of olmesartan were similar in young adults and the elderly. Modest accumulation of olmesartan was observed in the elderly with repeated dosing; AUCss, τ was 33% higher in elderly patients, corresponding to an approximate 30% reduction in CLR [see Dosage and Administration and Use in Specific Populations ].

The pharmacokinetics of olmesartan were studied in pediatric hypertensive patients aged 1 to16 years. The clearance of olmesartan in pediatric patients was similar to that in adult patients when adjusted by the body weight [see Use in Specific Populations ].

Olmesartan pharmacokinetics have not been investigated in pediatric patients less than 1 year of age [see Warnings and Precautions and Use in Specific Populations ].

Minor differences were observed in the pharmacokinetics of olmesartan in women compared to men. AUC and Cmax were 10-15% higher in women than in men.

Hepatic Insufficiency
Increases in AUC0-∞ and Cmax were observed in patients with moderate hepatic impairment compared to those in matched controls, with an increase in AUC of about 60% [see Dosage and Administration and Use in Specific Populations ].

Renal Insufficiency
In patients with renal insufficiency, serum concentrations of olmesartan were elevated compared to subjects with normal renal function. After repeated dosing, the AUC was approximately tripled in patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance <20 mL/min). The pharmacokinetics of olmesartan in patients undergoing hemodialysis has not been studied [see Dosage and Administration , Warnings and Precautions and Use in Specific Populations ].

Drug Interactions

Bile acid sequestering agent colesevelam

Concomitant administration of 40 mg olmesartan medoxomil and 3750 mg colesevelam hydrochloride in healthy subjects resulted in 28% reduction in Cmax and 39% reduction in AUC of olmesartan. Lesser effects, 4% and 15% reduction in Cmax and AUC respectively, were observed when olmesartan m edoxomil was administered 4 hours prior to colesevelam hydrochloride [see Drug Interactions (7) ].


Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Olmesartan medoxomil was not carcinogenic when administered by dietary administration to rats for up to 2 years. The highest dose tested (2000 mg/kg/day) was, on a mg/m2 basis, about 480 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 40 mg/day. Two carcinogenicity studies conducted in mice, a 6-month gavage study in the p53 knockout mouse and a 6-month dietary administration study in the Hras2 transgenic mouse, at doses of up to 1000 mg/kg/day (about 120 times the MRHD), revealed no evidence of a carcinogenic effect of olmesartan medoxomil.

Both olmesartan medoxomil and olmesartan tested negative in the in vitro Syrian hamster embryo cell transformation assay and showed no evidence of genetic toxicity in the Ames (bacterial mutagenicity) test. However, both were shown to induce chromosomal aberrations in cultured cells in vitro (Chinese hamster lung) and tested positive for thymidine kinase mutations in the in vitro mouse lymphoma assay. Olmesartan medoxomil tested negative in vivo for mutations in the MutaMouse intestine and kidney and for clastogenicity in mouse bone marrow (micronucleus test) at oral doses of up to 2000 mg/kg (olmesartan not tested).

Fertility of rats was unaffected by administration of olmesartan medoxomil at dose levels as high as 1000 mg/kg/day (240 times the MRHD) in a study in which dosing was begun 2 (female) or 9 (male) weeks prior to mating.

Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology

Reproductive Toxicology Studies
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] of olmesartan medoxomil 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.


Adult Hypertension

The antihypertensive effects of Benicar have been demonstrated in seven placebo controlled studies at doses ranging from 2.5 mg to 80 mg for 6 to 12 weeks, each showing statistically significant reductions in peak and trough blood pressure. A total of 2693 patients (2145 Benicar; 548 placebo) with essential hypertension were studied. Benicar once daily lowered diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The response was dose-related, as shown in the following graph. A Benicar dose of 20 mg daily produces a trough sitting BP reduction over placebo of about 10/6 mmHg and a dose of 40 mg daily produces a trough sitting BP reduction over placebo of about 12/7 mmHg. Benicar doses greater than 40 mg had little additional effect. The onset of the antihypertensive effect occurred within 1 week and was largely manifest after 2 weeks.

Data above are from seven placebo-controlled studies (2145 Benicar patients, 548 placebo patients). The blood pressure lowering effect was maintained throughout the 24-hour period with Benicar once daily, with trough-to-peak ratios for systolic and diastolic response between 60 and 80%.

The blood pressure lowering effect of Benicar, with and without hydrochlorothiazide, was maintained in patients treated for up to 1 year. There was no evidence of tachyphylaxis during long-term treatment with Benicar or rebound effect following abrupt withdrawal of olmesartan medoxomil after 1 year of treatment.

The antihypertensive effect of Benicar was similar in men and women and in patients older and younger than 65 years. The effect was smaller in black patients (usually a low renin population), as has been seen with ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and other angiotensin receptor blockers. Benicar had an additional blood pressure lowering effect when added to hydrochlorothiazide.

There are no trials of Benicar demonstrating reductions in cardiovascular risk in patients with hypertension, but at least one pharmacologically similar drug has demonstrated such benefits.

Pediatric Hypertension

The antihypertensive effects of Benicar in the pediatric population were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind study involving 302 hypertensive patients aged 6 to 16 years. The study population consisted of an all black cohort of 112 patients and a mixed racial cohort of 190 patients, including 38 blacks. The etiology of the hypertension was predominantly essential hypertension (87% of the black cohort and 67% of the mixed cohort). Patients who weighed 20 to <35 kg were randomized to 2.5 or 20 mg of Benicar once daily and patients who weighed ≥35 kg were randomized to 5 or 40 mg of Benicar once daily. At the end of 3 weeks, patients were re-randomized to continuing Benicar or to taking placebo for up to 2 weeks. During the initial dose-response phase, Benicar significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a weight-adjusted dose-dependent manner. Overall, the two dose levels of Benicar (low and high) significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.6 and 11.9 mmHg from the baseline, respectively. These reductions in systolic blood pressure included both drug and placebo effect. During the randomized withdrawal to placebo phase, mean systolic blood pressure at trough was 3.2 mmHg lower and mean diastolic blood pressure at trough was 2.8 mmHg lower in patients continuing Benicar than in patients withdrawn to placebo. These differences were statistically different. As observed in adult populations, the blood pressure reductions were smaller in black patients.

In the same study, 59 patients aged 1 to 5 years who weighed ≥5 kg received 0.3 mg/kg of Benicar once daily for three weeks in an open label phase and then were randomized to receiving Benicar or placebo in a double-blind phase. At the end of the second week of withdrawal, the mean systolic/diastolic blood pressure at trough was 3/3 mmHg lower in the group randomized to Benicar; this difference in blood pressure was not statistically significant (95% C.I. -2 to 7/-1 to 7).

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