In August, lawyers for plaintiffs in 28 lawsuits asked the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) to centralize the litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
There are currently 10 lawsuits pending in California, with the rest scattered in Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and other states. A class action was also filed in January 2013.
The MDL is designed to improve the efficiency of a nationwide litigation by helping lawyers coordinate pre-trial discovery. It also reduces the risk of conflicting rulings in multiple lower courts.
Eli Lilly & Co. says there are too few cases to justify the creation of a MDL. They warn:
“The MDL procedures should not be utilized to create a ‘field of dreams’ that attracts a swath of meritless claims that can be shielded from individualized discovery under the Federal Rules.”
The drug-maker also stated that withdrawal from antidepressants is a “well-recognized” side effect, and convincing a jury that physicians were unaware of the risk will be a “formidable task.”
The label on Cymbalta does state that withdrawal occurs in “greater than or equal to 1%” of patients. However, the actual number (as reported in Lilly’s own clinical trials) found that 44-50% of patients experienced withdrawal, about 10% of cases were “severe,” and 54% of patients did not get better after two weeks.
Some of the most debilitating symptoms of withdrawal include “brain zaps” (electric-shock sensations in the brain), dizziness, nausea, nightmares, anger, irritability, psychiatric disorders, and more.