Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - Plaintiffs filing lawsuits against the withdrawal effects of the antidepressant Cymbalta will pursue a second bid to be centralized will take place tomorrow before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The first attempt was denied by the JPML, however plaintiffs have returned with more lawsuits and what they believe are better arguments more likely to sway the panel‘s opinions in their favor.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Cymbalta and its manufacturer Eli Lilli & Co. claim that the company did not properly warn consumers of the serious side effects that could take place in tandem with discontinuing the use of the drug. The allegations state that the company was aware of the serious withdrawal effects that Cymbalta caused, but chose not in warn consumers of those characteristics of the drug in hopes of protecting the product‘s marketability.
The newest bid for multidistrict litigation notes that 44 actions are included in the latest attempt to centralize the lawsuits, which are comprised of nearly 250 plaintiffs. Cymbalta plaintiffs claim that all these actions are following the same discovery schedule, and that in contrast to what Eli Lilly claimed during their first attempt to centralized the lawsuits, common discovery is still underway. The plaintiffs claims that these factors both contribute to their case for the cases to be transferred into multidistrict litigation because they are so similar in nature and following a similar litigative path.
Cymbalta is a antidepressant drug that is part of a class referred to as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Plaintiff‘s claim that during the development of the drug, Eli Lilly was aware of it‘s penchant for severe withdrawal symptoms. They cited a clinical trial conducted early on in the drug‘s development that found 45 percent of patients experienced spontaneous withdrawal symptoms after they stopped taking Cymbalta regularly. Many patients complained of feeling withdrawal symptoms in as few as 12 hours after discontinuing their use of the medication.
The plaintiffs also found that Eli Lilly discovered that strong withdrawal symptoms is one of the main foctors doctors look for when deciding what to prescribe to patients. If a drug gives the impression of having fewer withdrawal symptoms, the doctor may chose to prescribe it over a similar drug with a higher change of withdrawal complications. In both motions to transfer, the plaintiffs claimed that in light of these clinical and market research studies conducted by Eli Lilly, the company was well aware of the withdrawal problems with Cymbalta and chose to inadequately warn doctors and potential patients of the potential harm the drug could cause in such a scneario.
Though Cymbalta does include warnings on their labeling such as "never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms," plaintiffs claim these warnings are not strong enough compared to the symptoms experienced by those who stop taking the medication. The existence of this wording was part of the JPML‘s denial of the first motion to transfer, and will likely be a point of contention in the second attempt as well.
This is the second attempt in less that a year to certify to Cymbalta lawsuits into multidistrict litigation after a first attempt was denied by the JPML in December. The hearing will take place on October 1, and a decision on the centralization of the lawsuits will follow a week or two after the hearinf takes place.