Cymbalta, an antidepressant medication, has recently been linked to serious side effects including congenital birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the drug during pregnancy. If your child or other loved one has been injured by Cymbalta, and you’re interested in filing a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers, our lawyers can help.
What is Cymbalta?
Cymbalta (generic: duloxetine) is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressant (SSNRI). The drug works by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain that may become unbalanced. Cymbalta is prescribed to treat:
- Major depressive disorder
- General anxiety disorder
- Chronic muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Nerve damage in patients with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
Cymbalta is made by Eli Lilly & Co., and was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004.
Cymbalta Birth Defects
Unfortunately, antidepressants like Cymbalta have long been associated with severe birth defects. The problem is that pregnant women suffering from depression often have to choose between the lesser of two evils: should they take an antidepressant and risk having a baby with birth defects, or not take the drug and risk the emotional and hormonal trauma that could also end up harming their unborn child?
Cymbalta has also been reported to cause severe withdrawal symptoms when patients stop taking the drug. Although the Warning Label indicates that these symptoms “occurred at a rate greater than or equal to 1%”, recent studies have found them to be much more frequent (up to 51% of patients).
Symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal may include:
- Blurry vision
- Hot and cold flashes
- “Brain zaps”
- Suicidal thoughts
These symptoms may be so severe that patients have to keep taking Cymbalta simply to lessen the effects of the withdrawal, causing a person to become completely dependent on the drug. The duration of withdrawal varies from patient to patient, but can last for three months or more. Symptoms may appear after Cymbalta is discontinued or the dosage is lowered.
Has a Cymbalta Class Action Lawsuit Been Filed?
In October 2012, the first federal district court case was filed over Cymbalta in California. The complaint alleges that the drug causes an unreasonably large number of patients to experience withdrawal reactions when they discontinue treatment. The case also alleges that because Eli Lilly & Co. failed to disclose important information about Cymbalta’s withdrawal risks in the labeling and marketing materials, consumers were unable to make an informed decision about whether to use the drug, and should be compensated accordingly.
Plaintiffs in the class action include:
- Melissa Strafford – Had to continue using Cymbalta because of the intense withdrawal symptoms. When she was finally able to taper off the drug, she continued to suffer for months.
- Jennifer Saavedra – Also had trouble discontinuing Cymbalta. She experienced brain zaps, full-body shaking and tunnel vision. It took Saavedra a full year to quit the drug.
- Carol Jacquez – Required 6 months to wean herself off Cymbalta and experienced severe withdrawal symptoms for several more months.
- David Matthews – Also experienced withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing Cymbalta.
The lawsuit is: Saavedra v. Eli Lilly and Company, Case No.: 2:12-cv-09366, (C.D.CA, 2012).