Motion Filed to Centralize Cymbalta Lawsuits Over Withdrawal Symptoms

Amid a growing number of Cymbalta lawsuits filed against Eli Lilly for allegedly failing to warn about the risk of withdrawal side effects associated with the antidepressant, a group of plaintiffs are seeking to centralize all federal cases before one judge as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). 

A motion to transfer (PDF) was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on August 15, asking that all product liability lawsuits over Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

There are currently at least 28 Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuits pending in U.S. District Courts nationwide. Plaintiffs are asking that the litigation be centralized before either U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson or U.S. District Judge George H. King to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the claims, avoid contradictory rulings on similar issues and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Eli Lilly failed to adequately warn patients or the medical community about the risk of harsh withdrawal symptoms and psychological problems that may occur when they stopped taking Cymbalta, a popular antidepressant.

Reported withdrawal side effects of Cymbalta include thoughts of suicide, anger, dizziness, and paresthesia, which involves unexplained itching, burning and tickling of the skin.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where a large number of similar claims are filed throughout the country involving the same injuries associated with a medication or medical device, the U.S. JPML often establishes an MDL to manage pretrial proceedings.

“The creation of an MDL for Cymbalta Withdrawal cases is appropriate because there are currently twenty-eight actions pending before twenty-two district courts and twenty-one federal district judges, each of which is in the pretrial stages of litigation,” the motion states. “Indeed, given that the alleged withdrawal injuries at issue here affect at least 44-50% of Cymbalta consumers, it is likely that many hundreds of cases will be filed during the course of this litigation. This expected volume alone warrants an MDL.”

Cymbalta Withdrawal Side Effects

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.

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.

Instead of providing clear information about the risk of serious and potentially severe withdrawal symptoms with Cymbalta, the medication guide and label provided with the drug only gives what many consider a very vague warning:

“Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms.”

Both the ISMP and plaintiffs in these recent lawsuits indicate that the warning is far from adequate in conveying the specific risks of Cymbalta withdrawal.

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.

5 Comments

  • PatriciaFebruary 10, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Help, tried to quit per Dr's directions, itching horribly all over, depressed from insomnia constant itching,pins and needles day and night. No one admits or helps with this!!!!!

  • RhondaJanuary 17, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I'm still taking the stuff because I can't handle the withdrawal symptoms. I want off of it but can't.

  • pamJanuary 25, 2015 at 5:50 am

    I also took the meds also. I was even taking double dosage without knowing it 2 different names on the bottles.mental status was Waco..lost a 7 yr relationship over it..medicial condition keeps going down hill.

  • LindaDecember 6, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Linda 12-05-2014 I was on cymbalta for 8 to 10 year's i now have vertigo, numbness and tingling, I have spell's where I feel like i am going to pass out, short term memory loss or brain zap's not sure what you would call it, I am not taking it now.

  • davidSeptember 5, 2014 at 4:59 am

    The most ill I've ever felt was when I went through Cymbalta withdrawal. I attempted to get my Cymbalta refilled on the Friday before labor day weekend. They were out of the drug and I had to wait until Tuesday until I could get more. No problem . . . I had no idea that there were withdrawal issues that would send me to the hospital ER with symptoms such as brain buzz, vertigo, nausea, involentary[Show More]The most ill I've ever felt was when I went through Cymbalta withdrawal. I attempted to get my Cymbalta refilled on the Friday before labor day weekend. They were out of the drug and I had to wait until Tuesday until I could get more. No problem . . . I had no idea that there were withdrawal issues that would send me to the hospital ER with symptoms such as brain buzz, vertigo, nausea, involentary tics, depression, pain all of which became unbearable by Tuesday.

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