Is Cymbalta Withdrawal "Zapping" Patients' Brains? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Eli Lilly & Co. was ordered to face claims it misled consumers about “brain zaps” and other withdrawal side effects tied to its antidepressant Cymbalta in the first cases slated to be heard by juries.

Lilly’s bid to have former Cymbalta users’ lawsuits thrown out was rebuffed by a federal judge in California, who found they raised legitimate questions about the drugmaker’s warnings about withdrawal risks.

Jurors must decide whether Lilly officials designed Cymbalta studies to “under-report the risk of discontinuation symptoms,” U.S. District Judge Steven Wilson in Los Angeles ruled June 19. He set the first two trials in his court for August.

‘Brain Zaps’

The drugmaker faces more than 5,000 cases claiming it downplayed Cymbalta’s withdrawal side effects, which allegedly include electrical-shock sensations described in court filings as “brain zaps.” Other withdrawal effects are said to include nausea, vomiting and insomnia.

“We believe in our defenses to these claims and we will continue to defend Lilly vigorously,” Scott MacGregor, a Lilly spokesman, said Wednesday.

The patients contend Lilly executives downplayed the withdrawal risks on the drug’s warning label, saying only about 2 percent of users experienced side effects when coming off the medication, according to court filings.

Studies have found more than 40 percent of Cymbalta patients suffered withdrawal after quitting the medicine, the consumers said in court filings.