We talk a lot about choosing safe, natural options over the risky offerings of Big Pharma. But, if you’re already taking a patent medicine, it’s incredibly important to take care in weaning yourself off if you choose to make a switch.
And nothing illustrates that better than a new analysis of the antidepressant Cymbalta. Particularly the major problems that can come with trying to stop taking the drug.
Up to half of all Cymbalta patients in the clinical trials analyzed experienced withdrawal symptoms. Patients reported symptoms including blackouts, suicidal thoughts, tremor, and nausea. In several cases, people actually ended up in the hospital.
Here’s kicker #1: the analysis describes a “serious breakdown” at the FDA and Eli Lilly (the maker of the drug) in letting people know about these problems. Put simply, they didn’t provide warnings and instructions that would help people make informed decisions about taking the drug.
Here’s kicker #2: In 2001 the FDA conducted a safety review when Eli Lilly completed their new drug application for Cymbalta. At that time, the FDA claimed that any withdrawal symptoms were mild and uncommon. They went on to say that tapering down use of the drug would be best for patient comfort, but that there were no serious risks associated with quitting cold-turkey.
But that’s simply not true. In trials that lasted nine weeks or less, 44 percent of patients reported withdrawal symptoms. That number went up to 50 percent in longer trials. A full 10 percent of patients in the shorter trials rated their symptoms as severe and more than half of those people were still experiencing those symptoms after two weeks.
What happened after the two weeks?
Well…nobody knows. Eli Lilly didn’t bother to follow up with patients after that.
Basically, the analysis says that serious withdrawal symptoms are just plain poorly studied.
And what IS known isn’t shared. Cymbalta’s medication guide simply says to talk to a healthcare provider before stopping an antidepressant. It also offers the vague advice that stopping suddenly can cause “other symptoms.” There’s absolutely no indication of just how severe those symptoms can actually be.
The Institute for Safe Medicine Practices reports that in the prescribing information for the drug, doctors are given a list of twelve issues to discuss with patients before beginning treatment with Cymbalta. Withdrawal problems are not among those dozen issues.
Unfortunately for people taking Cymbalta, there’s virtually no support when it comes to discontinuing the drug. It’s absurd that a company can get away with leaving patients high and dry when it comes to safely stopping use of a drug. But–surprise, surprise–despite the proven major withdrawal issues associated with antidepressants, the FDA just doesn’t require manufacturers to offer instructions on gradual withdrawal.
If you’re looking to stop taking an antidepressant, the best thing you can do is work closely with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor may not be getting any help from the company that made the drug, but he can work with you to keep you as safe as possible as you wean yourself off it.
And if you’re not already taking an antidepressant drug yet, for goodness sake don’t start. Instead start with a simple natural approach to relieving your anxiety or panic attacks. Our friends and affiliates at Agora Health Books have a drug-free approach that could have you saying so-along to the fear once and for all.
Click here to learn more about the natural path to becoming fear free.
“Just Like That? Trying To Discontinue Cymbalta,” Pharmalot (pharmalot.com)
“Prolonged Withdrawal– Will It Ever End?” Psych Central (blogs.psychcentral.com)
“People’s Pharmacy: Weaning off Cymbalta should be done slowly,” My SA (mysanantonio.com)