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cymbalta logo withdrawal

Cymbalta, distributed by Eli Lilly has grown to be one of the top selling drugs in the U.S., used to treat depression and anxiety. However, dangerous side effects have been associated with the drug including discontinuation syndrome accompanied by brain zaps.

Cymbalta is the million dollar drug approved by the FDA to treat depression, mood swings, pain and anxiety associated with mental discomfort. After the drug was approved in 2004, doctors began prescribing it for a wide variety of patients who suffered from disabilities like depression to urinary incontinence.

The drug however proved fatal side effects to patients wishing to discontinue use. Many people who stopped taking Cymbalta experienced headaches, dizziness, blackouts and suicidal thoughts.

Cymbalta vs. Other Antidepressants

Cymbalta contributes to the major annual profit of $11 billion dollars brought in by antidepressants. In 2012, Cymbalta alone accounted for 42% of all antidepressant sales. The drug competes with other antidepressants on the market such as Praxil, Effexor and Lexapro.

Cymbalta functions similarly to Effexor as it is classified in the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) group. This class of drugs controls serotonin levels in the body which in turn increases energy levels and uplifts the mood.

Since its approval, Cymbalta has profited Eli Lilly with more than $29 billion with an annual sale in 2013 of $5 billion. Due to its popularity, the brand name is sold with a retail price of $170 a month – making it more expensive than other antidepressants on the market.

Clinical Studies and Uses

Over the years, Cymbalta has been approved to treat anxiety, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, chronic muscle pain, and stress urinary incontinence. Within the first five years after its introduction to the market, Cymbalta was prescribed to more than 2.8 million patients. Included in these prescriptions were 400,000 were prescribed Cymbalta for off label use such as nerve pain, headaches, and musculoskeletal pain. The analgesic properties found in the drug have also made it suitable for treating osteoarthritis.

Initial Concerns

Because of serious reports concerning liver damage and skin disease after taking the drug, an FDA committee met in 2010 to discuss the weight of benefits versus risks. Despite the risks involved, the drug continued to get approval for various medical conditions.

Side Effects of Taking Cymbalta
Pregnancy Complications Skin Disease
Liver Toxicity Birth Defects
Suicidal Thoughts Discontinuation Syndrome

Persistent Withdrawal Symptoms

The institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) publicized a report accounting for 48 cases where patients prescribed Cymbalta suffered from adverse side effects including brain zaps. A brain zap is an abrupt electrical shock in the mind that is accompanied by intense and painful esthesis that effect mental clarity. These sensations leave the patient feeling nauseated with headaches, and shaky. The severity of the these brain zaps can often impair an individuals ability to carry out simple tasks.

Along with brain zaps, many patients suffered from discontinuation symptoms more than a week after stopping treatment. Many patients required hospitalization along with reports of tremors, nausea, and blackouts. The ISMP alleges that Eli Lilly and the FDA failed to provide sufficient warnings concerning these safety hazards.

Cymbalta Lawsuits

Users of Cymbalta who suffered from discontinuation syndrome along with other dangerous side effects have the opportunity to take action and gain compensation. Many clients have already filed lawsuits against Eli Lilly for insufficient warnings against the drug’s danger.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2014, July 17). Highlights of Prescribing Information: Cymbalta. Retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/021427Orig1s045lbl.pdf

Pierson, R. (2014, January 30). Lilly’s Quarterly Sales Largely Offset Cymbalta Slide. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/30/us-lilly-results-idUSBREA0T1AD20140130

Medical News Today. (2007, February 27). FDA Approves Cymbalta(R) for Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/63966.php

Wilson, D. (2010, August 19). Lilly Moves Closer to Approval to Market Cymbalta for Chronic Pain. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/health/20drug.html?_r=1

Hoog, S. et al. (2013, February 28). Duloxetine and Pregnancy Outcomes: Safety Surveillance Findings. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 10 (4): 413-319. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590601/

Institute of Safety Medication Practices. (2012, October 3). Why Reports of Serious Adverse Drug Events Continue to Grow. Retrieved from http://www.ismp.org/quarterwatch/pdfs/2012Q1.pdf

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights. (2014, August 5). Cymbalta Side Effects. Retrieved from http://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/antidepressantsideeffects/cymbaltasideeffects/

Stever, R. (2006, February 15). Lilly Won’t Pursue Yentreve for U.S. The Street. Retrieved from http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/stocks/pharmaceuticals/10268662.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

United States District Court for the Central District of California. (2013, January 1). Case 2:12-cv-SVW-MAN. Retrieved from http://www.weo1.com/tpn/c/C517/docs/PlCorrected1stAmendedComplaint011013.pdf

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