Cymbalta is the generic drug called duloxetine, which was developed and marketed by Eli Lilly and Co. Cymbalta belongs to a class of antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, which are used to treat depression and several other conditions. SNRIs have been shown to be effective for patients, but not without certain risks.
SNRIs like Cymbalta may cause severe withdrawal symptoms, similar to those experienced by people addicted to drugs. It may also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in some patients and has been implicated in a rare but serious skin condition. Cymbalta lawsuits have proliferated as more and more people have been adversely affected by this medication and as they realize that they were not adequately warned about the risks.
What is Cymbalta?
Duloxetine is an antidepressant, which means that it acts on neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, to boost mood. In addition to depression, Cymbalta can also be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. It has even been found to soothe certain types of nerve pain and is sometimes given to people with neuropathy, a kind of diabetic nerve pain, and fibromyalgia, a little understood condition that includes chronic pain.
As an SNRI, Cymbalta works by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. These two neurotransmitters are associated with an uplifted mood, so by blocking their reabsorption, the medication increases the amount of the chemicals in the brain, therefore improving the mood of the patient. As with most antidepressants it can take several weeks before the effect is seen.
There are some common and not too serious side effects that some people experience while first taking Cymbalta, especially in the first few weeks. These include heartburn, diarrhea, vomiting, a decreased appetite and weight loss, weakness, muscle cramps, drowsiness, headaches, trouble urinating, and a decreased libido.
Reasons to File a Cymbalta Lawsuit
The more common side effects of Cymbalta are not serious and usually not long-lasting. There are, however, a few serious possible complications that Cymbalta may cause and which have led to a number of lawsuits against Eli Lilly. If you have taken this antidepressant for any reason and have experienced any of these serious side effects and its devastating consequences, you too may have a case to make.
One of these serious issues is suicide. Like other antidepressants Cymbalta is known to increase the chance of having suicidal thoughts and of taking suicidal or self-harm actions for patients aged 24 and younger. The risk is not common, but is life-threatening and has warranted a black box warning requirement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Children under the age of 18 are not supposed to even be prescribed this drug unless nothing else has worked. If you have lost a loved one because of this serious side effect, you may be able to file a lawsuit for compensation. Some people believe that the warnings about this risk were not adequate to protect young patients.
Another serious issue is often called discontinuation syndrome. Many people report experiencing serious withdrawal-like side effects when they try to stop using Cymbalta. Patients are not supposed to stop using the drug without a doctor’s guidance because of these symptoms: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tingling or burning in the hands and feet, irritability, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, nightmares, and sweating.
Some people have also reported experiencing an unusual and hard to describe symptoms of withdrawal often referred to as a brain zap. These patients say it is a sudden feeling of being imbalanced, of being electrically shocked in the head, a feeling of agitation and confusion, and a dizzy sensation. Exactly why this happen is unknown, but it can be very disturbing.
There have been many Cymbalta lawsuits and in these suits plaintiffs claim that Eli Lilly misled the public by downplaying risks of the drug and over-stating benefits. They say that the company lied about how many people experience withdrawal, seriously downplaying this potential complication. The plaintiffs also state that the company did not fully warn patients and doctors of the risks of using Cymbalta and even that they produced and marketed a defective drug.
Many of the lawsuits against Eli Lilly and Cymbalta have come from people who suffered from withdrawal symptoms. These plaintiffs have claimed that Eli Lilly stated that only one percent of users would get withdrawal, but that the number is closer to 45 percent. Individual claims include one woman’s statement that after discontinuing use of the drug she experienced brain zaps, tunnel vision, and other symptoms that required a year to overcome. Another plaintiff said she had no choice but to stop using Cymbalta because of side effects, but that she experienced withdrawal for months after.
While withdrawal has been a major reason to file a lawsuit over Cymbalta, it is not the only one. In 2012 the parents of a young man who committed suicide filed a suit. They blamed Eli Lilly for not providing adequate warnings about Cymbalta. Their son committed suicide one month after starting on the antidepressant and this was before the FDA required that it include the black box warning about suicide.
In another case a woman sued Eli Lilly after developing a rare skin condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The condition is not at all common, but complications from it can ultimately be fatal. The labeling for Cymbalta mentions the syndrome in the adverse events section, but is not in the warnings and precautions section at the beginning of the insert information. This woman developed a severe reaction from the disease and felt that she had not been adequately warned about the risks before taking Cymbalta.
The first consolidated case against Eli Lilly has gone in favor of the drug company. The jury sided with Eli Lilly, but there are more cases to go and the potential for settlements and monetary awards for those patients who have suffered withdrawal and other side effects. If you have a case to make against Eli Lilly, let a lawyer guide you through the next steps.