Patients starting a course of treatment on Cymbalta, Eli Lilly’s former blockbuster antidepressant, were promised the possibility of help. For these patients, their struggle against crippling depression is real. Their symptoms are real. Their hope for a brighter future is real.
Unfortunately, the risks of severe withdrawal symptoms associated with the use of the drug are also very real, according to lawsuits filed against the drug’s manufacturer. Cymbalta patients have reported suicidal thoughts and the feeling of electric shock-like sensations coursing through their bodies when coming off of the medication.
Had Cymbalta’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly, been clearer about the risks associated with their anti-depressant, they might have spared themselves the wrath of the more than 200 people now awaiting their day in court to speak out about the drug. Instead, today, some 250 plaintiffs anxiously await the opportunity to have their voices heard.
What they have to say is alarming. While Lilly claims an incredibly low occurrence of side effects in Cymbalta patients, plaintiffs say that number is far higher and the effects of withdrawal can be drastically more severe.
Cymbalta’s label states that one percent or more of its users who discontinue use can experience symptoms such as nausea, irritability, and insomnia. Other, more severe conditions like sensory disturbances and seizures have also been reported.
Cymbalta plaintiffs call this a drastic mischaracterization and obfuscation of the facts. They site medical literature to support their claims. A 2005 study performed by the Journal of Affective Disorders found that the number of patients that experienced some form of Cymbalta withdrawal at the end of their treatment was over 44 percent.
Accusations of downplaying possible side effects in an effort to boost the drug’s marketability have been levied against Eli Lilly. For its part, the drug manufacturer said through a spokesperson that the current label makes the required warnings clear and that medical professionals are fully aware of its potential risks.
With the number of Cymbalta withdrawal cases numbering into the hundreds, both sides are closely watching the outcomes of these initial trials. If history is any indicator, however, plaintiffs may be looking at an uphill battle. Multiple Cymbalta cases have ended in favor of Eli Lilly. These cases, however, did not give juries the opportunity to evaluate the underlying claims against the company. Now, an entirely new set of outcomes is possible and plaintiffs and attorneys alike are anxious to see how juries will respond.