Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a medication created by Eli Lilly that is primarily used for the treatment of depression. Unfortunately, a growing number of people are reporting severe withdrawal symptoms after they discontinue the drug. Others have committed suicide while taking the drug.
UPDATE: Cymbalta Withdrawal MDL Denied for 2nd Time
October 12, 2015 — Federal judges denied a 2nd motion to centralize dozens of Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in one federal court. Click here to read more.
August 5, 2015 — The first lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co. involving severe withdrawal symptoms of Cymbalta has gone to trial in California, with lawyers accusing the drug-maker of downplaying the risk. Click here to read more.
December 12, 2014 — Federal judges have refused plaintiffs’ request to centralize 25 lawsuits involving withdrawal side effects of Cymbalta into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) under one judge. Instead, the cases will proceed individually. Click here to read more.
November 12, 2014 — A federal judge in New York has tossed a Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuit, ruling that the drug-maker adequately warned about the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. The decision could hurt plaintiffs’ chances of consolidating dozens of similar lawsuits in federal court. Click here to read more.
September 19, 2014 — Eli Lilly & Co. is trying to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the drug-maker of failing to warn about the risk of severe withdrawal from Cymbalta. Click here to read more.
September 15, 2014 — Law360.com reports that Eli Lilly & Co. has asked federal judges to deny a motion to centralize 28 lawsuits involving Cymbalya in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Click here to read more.
August 20, 2014 — Attorneys have asked a panel of judges to centralize 28 lawsuits involving severe withdrawal symptoms from Cymbalta into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in federal court in California. Click here to read more.
What is Cymbalta?
Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an oral antidepressant medication that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004. Cymbalta is manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co. In addition to treating depression, Cymbalta is also used to treat anxiety, diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis pain, and fibromyalgia. Cymbalta belongs to a class of antidepressants known as SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors).
Cymbalta Withdrawal Disorder
The link between antidepressant medications and withdrawal symptoms has been known since at least 2001. Before the FDA approved Cymbalta in 2004, they required Eli Lilly to conduct a study investigating Cymbalta and withdrawal. A group of patients were given Cymbalta for 8-9 weeks, abruptly switched to a placebo, and then observed for an additional 1-2 weeks.
According to a report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), the researchers found that 44-50% of patients who discontinued Cymbalta suffered withdrawal.
About 10% were described as “severe” and more than half of the cases did not resolve when the 1-2 week observational period was complete. Researchers did not follow-up with the patients whose withdrawal symptoms did not resolve.
Instead of providing clear risk information about the risk of withdrawal, the medication guide for the drug only states:
“Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms.”
These warnings do not indicate how severe withdrawal symptoms could be, nor do they suggest a prudent way to stop Cymbalta (such as tapering dosage).
The ISMP called these warnings “materially deficient.” Furthermore, the ISMP noted that Eli Lilly’s study was only conducted for 8-9 weeks, when many people take Cymbalta for years before discontinuing the drug.
Symptoms of Cymbalta Withdrawal
Many types of physical and neurological symptoms of withdrawal from Cymbalta have been reported. Some of these side effects include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Paresthesia (“tingling” sensations, sometimes referred to as “brain zaps”)
- Abnormal sweating
- Anger, irritability
- Suicidal ideation
- Personality changes
- Changes in weight / appetite
Cymbalta and Suicide
Cymbalta currently has a “Black Box Warning” about an increased risk of suicidal behavior and thoughts in children and adolescents. All antidepressant medications have this warning. The “Black Box” is the strongest type of warning the FDA can require on a medication.
In August 2012, an appeals court ruled that a Cymbalta suicide lawsuit could continue — ruling against Eli Lilly’s motion to dismiss. The lawsuit involves a 16 year-old male who was given samples of Cymbalta in 2004 and committed suicide one month later.
The court found that the case had merit because the boy’s doctor was not aware that five suicides had occurred during clinical trials, because Eli Lilly did not include this information in prescribing information for Cymbalta until the FDA required all antidepressants to carry warnings about the increased risk of suicide.
The opinion, Paul Schilf v. Eli Lilly & Co,was issued by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on August 3, 2012.
In April 2013, Eli Lilly agreed to an undisclosed settlement with the Schilf family. The settlement was reached one month before the case was scheduled for trial.
Cymbalta Class Action Lawsuit Information
January 31, 2013 — Law360 reports that a federal judge in California is reviewing a request from Eli Lilly & Co. to toss a Cymbalta class action. The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of California residents who purchased Cymbalta. Plaintiffs allege that they were not adequately warned about the risk of “brain zaps” and other severe withdrawal symptoms.