August 20, 2014 — Attorneys have asked a panel of judges to centralize 28 lawsuits involving severe withdrawal symptoms from Cymbalta (duloxetine) into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in federal court in California.
The litigation is currently distributed in Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and California. The attorneys have requested the MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California because ten cases are already pending in the state.
The MDL process helps improve efficiency, reduces the risk of conflicting rulings in lower courts, and can help expedite settlements or other resolutions through the “bellwether” trials. An MDL is similar to a class action, but each plaintiff files an individual lawsuit instead of consolidating their claim with other people. Another difference is that each case can have its own outcome.
Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturer of Cymbalta, is accused of failing to warn about the severity of withdrawal symptoms. The Prescribing Information includes warnings about “other symptoms” from discontinuing antidepressants, but it does not go into detail about what these symptoms may include, severity, or ways to reduce the risk.
Many plaintiffs are asking Lilly to add stronger warnings about “brain zaps” and other side effects, including dizziness, nausea, headache, fatigue, vomiting, irritability, nightmares, insomnia, diarrhea, anxiety, profuse sweating and vertigo.
Lilly has already tried to dismiss a class action, claiming that the Prescribing Information warns doctors that withdrawal “occurred at a rate greater than or equal to 1 percent.” In clinical trials, withdrawal occurred in about 50% of people who abruptly discontinued Cymbalta, and 10% of cases were severe.