Eli Lilly Accused Of Misleading Users On Cymbalta’s Severe Withdrawal Risks

Eli Lilly and Company is on trial for allegedly misleading consumers and downplaying severe withdrawal risks of their antidepressant drug, Cymbalta.

The American pharmaceutical company was in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday, facing as many as 250 cases claiming the drug maker failed to warn users of Cymbalta’s alleged side effects, including suicidal thoughts, vomiting, insomnia, and electric shock-like sensations.

One of the plaintiffs, Claudia Herrera, claims she suffered electric-shock sensations, dizziness, and nausea for a year after she stopped using Cymbalta, according to a report by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

T. Matthew Leckman, one of Herrera’s lawyers, addressed the court and federal jury saying the following.

“You’ll be asked to decide whether or not what she suffered was caused by Cymbalta withdrawal.”

Herrera accused Eli Lilly of downplaying its warnings in order to make the medication more marketable.

According to Herrera, she started taking Cymbalta for anxiety in 2006 and continued taking the medication for close to five years. In 2012, Claudia said her doctor told her to taper off taking the drug, and she complied.

However, Reuters reports, Herrera “suffered electric-like ‘zaps,’ anxiety, spasms and suicidal ideation, among other symptoms” as she gradually eased off the antidepressant Cymbalta.

In court filings, Eli Lilly denied the allegations, saying the company provided sufficient warnings and that her physician was aware of the potential risks.

Eli Lilly added that it had provided ample advice about Cymbalta’s withdrawal risks and additional information about the drug’s side effects would not have swayed doctors.

R. Brent Wisner, another lawyer for Claudia Herrera, said that later this month Eli Lilly faces three more trials involving similar claims.

“The success or failure of these cases will give us a good sense of how they are playing to these juries. Even if we lose, we have every intention of moving forward with the litigation.”

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On August 11, a similar case is set for trial in California. In late August, two more cases are scheduled to start in Virginia.

In his opening statement, Paul Schmidt, one of Eli Lilly’s lawyers, made the following point about Cymbalta’s labeling.

“The label is written for doctors. It’s written for people with medical training so that they can make a judgment about the safety of the medicine.”

Court filings from the lawyers for Claudia Herrera claim more than 40 percent of Cymbalta patients suffered with withdrawal symptoms after they stopped taking the drug.

An Eli Lilly spokesperson declined to comment on Claudia Herrera’s allegations; however, the American pharmaceutical company will vigorously defend that case and others.

[Featured image via Micro Records Company]