December 12, 2014 — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has denied (PDF) a request to centralize 25 lawsuits involving severe withdrawal side effects of Cymbalta.

The panel agreed that the lawsuits were highly similar, with plaintiffs alleging a variety of withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing Cymbalta.

Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturer of Cymbalta, was accused of failing to adequately warn about the risk of withdrawal symptoms, while overstating its effectiveness in promotional campaigns.

The plaintiffs’ motion was denied for three reasons:

  1. Concern about the widely-varying procedural status of the lawsuits, with the most recently-filed actions “still in their infancy.”
  2. A substantial amount of discovery has already taken place in lawsuits that were filed earlier, with Lily stating it has produced nearly 2 million pages of documents.
  3. Only two law firms represent all plaintiffs, suggesting that informal coordination should be practical.

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an antidepressant and pain-relieving medication that was approved by the FDA in 2004. The original label vaguely warned, “stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms,” but it did not explain how often “other symptoms” occur, how severe they might be, or what a patient could do to reduce their risk.

Studies have found that 44-50% of patients who discontinue Cymbalta experience withdrawal symptoms, and 10% of those cases were “severe.” Many people have reported debilitating brain zaps, which are described as sudden, brief, electric-like shocks in the brain.