Motion to Centralize Cymbalta Lawsuits Filed Again, As Number of Withdrawal Cases Grow

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has been asked to reconsider whether all Cymbalta lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system should be consolidated before one judge, with a group of plaintiffs arguing that centralized management is necessary for the growing number of complaints brought over the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

In December 2014, the panel rejected a request to establish a federal MDL for all Cymbalta withdrawal cases, indicating that there were too few lawsuits filed. The panel recommended informal coordination since there were a limited number of plaintiffs lawyers involved in the litigation.

According to a motion to transfer (PDF) filed on July 23, plaintiffs indicate that there are now at least 44 lawsuits filed on behalf of 249 plaintiffs in U.S. District Courts nationwide, with at least eight different firms involved. Therefore, the motion indicates that centralizing the cases before one judge is necessary to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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Plaintiffs ask that the lawsuits be centralized in the Southern District of Indiana

The U.S. JPML is likely to consider oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing session scheduled for October 1, in New York City.

Cymbalta Withdrawal Side Effects

Cymbalta (duloxetine) was approved by the FDA in 2004, for the treatment of depression. It is part of a family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which have been linked to symptoms of withdrawal since at least 2001.

According to a 2012 report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), early clinical studies have shown that about half of patients who abruptly discontinued use of Cymbalta suffered withdrawal symptoms. About 10% of those cases involved severe problems and more than half of the cases involved side effects that lasted longer than a week or two.

Instead of providing clear information about the risk of serious and potentially severe withdrawal symptoms with Cymbalta, plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the medication guide and label provided with the drug provided only a very vague warning.

ISMP called the warning “materially deficient,” pointing out that it does not tell patients what to be concerned about, how many patients could be affected, how severe the symptoms could be, and does not tell them the best way of quitting Cymbalta.

Eli Lilly told the ISMP that they referred patients to their doctors and pharmacists, but the independent group noted that the information given to doctors did not include withdrawal problems as something to discuss with their patients.

Plaintiffs allege that they may have avoided serious injury if the drug maker had provided adequate warnings about the potential side effects of Cymbalta.

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