Friday, July 24, 2015 - A series of lawsuits that originally pursued multidistrict litigation late in 2014 are once again filing for centralization after their first motion to transfer was denied. The lawsuits center on pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lily‘s the drug Cymbalta, which plaintiffs claim has serious withdrawal symptoms not adequately addressed in the warning labels attached to the medication.
The second motion to transfer the lawsuits into multidistrict litigation comes after the first attempt was denied in December of 2014. The original request, which included more than two dozen lawsuits, was denied an attempt to consolidate the lawsuits before a federal judge in the Central District of California. The arguments presented by the plaintiffs for consolidation at the time however did not meet the necessary requirements for the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consider them worthy for centralization.
The second attempt before the JPML is being presented by the plaintiffs as more lawsuits have been filed since the time of the original dismissal of the first case. The second bid to consolidate states that efforts to coordinate the increased number of law firms now involved in the Cymbalta lawsuits has not been easy in the absence of an MDL, and centralization of the lawsuits would go a long way in helping the plaintiffs work together and expedite the proceedings.
The cymbalta lawsuits stem from allegations of serious withdrawals from the drug experienced by patients after even a just a 12-hour break from taking their prescribed regimen of the medication. Plaintiffs claim that pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lily failed to warn patients of the severity with which the withdrawals can happen and how quickly they can occur. Common side effects include anxiety, dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and a number of additional afflictions plaintiffs claim their received inadequate warnings about.
The labeling on Cymbalta does include warnings pertaining to the risks of discontinuing the use of the antidepressant drug. One of these warnings instructs patients to ‘never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms.‘ This warning however was not sufficient for those filing suit when compared with the severity of the symptoms experienced by those who would miss a single day‘s dosage. The lawsuits claim more comprehensive and informative labeling should have been administered.
The plaintiffs claim that close to half of Cymbalta patients are at risk of experiencing these serious side effects, which has the possibility of sparking hundreds of additional lawsuits in the future. This claim was presented in the first filing for an MDL, and has been backed up with the increase of lawsuits that have been filed since the first motion to transfer was rejected.
Cymbalta is part of a newer family of antidepressants referred to as selective serotonin and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors. Given the recent release of these medications, the research involving many aspects of the drug, including withdrawal severity estimates, are also fresh and subject to error. The warning label claims that only 1-2 percent of users would be affected by withdrawal symptoms, well below the claim of nearly half made by plaintiffs.
The JPML will hear arguments pertaining to the second attempt to consolidate the Cymbalta lawsuits in the near future.