What is Cymbalta?
Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a type of antidepressant known as an SNRI (serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor). It was developed by Eli Lilly & Co. and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004. In addition to its use as an anti-anxiety / antidepressant drug, Cymbalta also has mild analgesic properties and is used to treat osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy.
Cymbalta and Withdrawal
In clinical trials, researchers estimated that withdrawal symptoms could appear in up to 44-50% of people who discontinued Cymbalta, including 10% classified as “severe.” During the trial, patients were randomized to receive Cymbalta or a placebo for 8-9 weeks and then discontinued. Unfortunately, about half of patients who had withdrawal symptoms did not get better within two weeks of discontinuing Cymbalta, when researchers stopped monitoring the patients.
The FDA has required the following warning on the label for Cymbalta:
“Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms.”
However, this warning does not explain how often “other symptoms” occur, how severe they might be, and what a patient should do to minimize the risk. As a result, many Cymbalta lawsuits allege that Eli Lilly & Co. is not doing enough to warn about symptoms of withdrawal, which can include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Personality changes
- “Brain zaps”
- Tremors, dizziness, severe vertigo
Cymbalta Side Effects
In addition to having the potential to cause severe withdrawal symptoms, Cymbalta has been linked to the following serious side effects:
- Birth defects
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Liver damage
- Serotonin syndrome
- Manic episodes
- Skin reactions
- Abnormal bleeding or bruising
- Problems urinating
- Changes in appetite or weight
Cymbalta and Pregnancy
The FDA has not approved Cymbalta for use during pregnancy, but doctors are allowed to prescribe it to a pregnant woman if the benefit justifies the risk to a fetus. Cymbalta is “Pregnancy Category C,” which means it could potentially cause a birth defect. Eli Lilly & Co. has created a Cymbalta Pregnancy Registry to learn more about the outcome of pregnancies in women who use Cymbalta.