August 5, 2015 — The first lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co. involving severe withdrawal symptoms of Cymbalta has gone to trial in California.
Reuters reports that lawyers are accusing the drug-maker of downplaying known risks.
The drug-maker’s own studies of Cymbalta found that 44% of patients experienced withdrawal symptoms, and 10% of those cases were “severe.” Yet the label only warns that “greater than or equal to 1%” of patients experience withdrawal, and included no recommendations about tapering off the dosage instead of quitting cold-turkey.
Lawyers for Claudia Herrera accused Eli Lilly of intentionally downplaying the risk of withdrawal. They said she had used other antidepressants, but discontinued them due to side effects or ineffectiveness.
After taking Cymbalta for five years beginning in 2006, Herrera discontinued it and began experiencing severe withdrawal. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, her symptoms included “brain zaps,” an electric-shock sensation reported by many plaintiffs in the litigation. Other symptoms included nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Federal judges have refused to centralize the litigation, despite hundreds of lawsuits filed at the state level. According to some complaints, victims felt like they were “hooked” because the withdrawal symptoms were so bad they could not stop taking Cymbalta.