FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Suicide and Cymbalta

Ask about published reports of 470 completed suicides of people on antidepressants since Prozac debuted in 1988 and the drug industry will say that’s depression for you. Without our drugs, it would be worse.

But how does Eli Lilly and Co. explain the mounting suicides of people given Cymbalta (duloxetine) for urinary incontinence or peripheral neuropathy?

The planned debut of Cymbalta, now Lilly’s number two drug, was even delayed by the suicide of a non-depressed person in 2004.

Traci Johnson, a healthy 19-year-old college student volunteer enrolled in a Cymbalta trial hung herself by a scarf from a shower rod in Lilly’s Indianapolis, IN laboratory while withdrawing from the drug.

Johnson showed no outward signs of depression and Lilly said she had been screened for mental problems, but staff conducting a concurrent Cymbalta trial made comments about her “mental history” to at least four participants–perhaps to keep them from dropping out of the trials as a fifth of volunteers did after the suicide.

After Johnson’s death, Lilly was ordered to stop accepting new volunteers for the study and to have continuing participants evaluated by an independent psychiatrist and sign new consent forms. But in another Cymbalta trial of 4,124 depressed patients just weeks later, four more participants took their lives according to a Lilly clinical psychiatrist, Dr. John R. Hayes.

Meanwhile reports from abroad where duloxetine was already in use as a stress urinary incontinence treatment called Yentreve were just as grave.

Twice the expected number of suicide attempts among middle aged women were seen with the drug– 400 per 100,000 person-years versus a baseline of 160 per 100,000 person-years–said the FDA on its Web site in June, 2005, leading Lilly to precipitously withdraw its application to sell Yentreve in the US.

Safety data for Cymbalta and Yentreve obtained by reporter Jeanne Lenzer under a Freedom of Information request for a Independent on Sunday article disclosed 41 deaths and 13 suicides which did not include Johnson’s or the four cited by Hayes, says Lenzer.

In fact in an article titled,” Duloxetine: new drug. For stress urinary incontinence: too much risk, too little benefit,” in the December 2005 issue of French medical journal Prescire International, the authors conclude that the drug should not even be in use.

More than 40 different types of adverse effects have been reported, including suicide attempts and potentially severe hepatic disorders. (7) Duloxetine is metabolised by the cytochrome P450 isoenzymes CYP 1A2 and CYP 2D6, creating a risk of interactions with other drugs that follow these metabolic pathways. (8) In practice, purely symptomatic treatments that have no documented efficacy but many adverse effects should not be used, especially when there is an alternative treatment with a positive risk-benefit balance.

The FDA approved Cymbalta for depression and diabetic peripheral neuropathy in 2004 and generalized anxiety disorder in 2007. But last fall it ordered Lilly to stop downplaying liver toxicity in its promotional materials.

And an article in the January 2007 issue of Diabetes Care found Cymbalta actually raises fasting blood glucose which can worsen the diabetic peripheral neuropathy it is supposed to treat. (see: depression; causes and effects)

Cymbalta has other side effects too, say users in email messages to a reporter.

In Jim Ellsworth, 52 of Houlton, Maine it caused a “hypertensive crisis” that did not fully subside until a month after quitting the drug he says.

It caused “involuntary twitching and jerking motions” that persist three years after being off Cymbalta for fibromyalgia says Lonna.

And for Amy, who had no history of depression but was “given Cymbalta for Attention Deficit Disorder, (which I haven’t been able to find anywhere that it is even approved for that)” it caused a withdrawal in which she “went on rampages and cried over everything and felt so sick and awful that I didn’t think I wanted to live anymore.”

But worst are the out of character, almost matter of fact suicides like a man described by his family as, “NOT depressed, he was a fun-loving guy with all sorts of plans in place for the future,” who was prescribed Cymbalta for foot pain.

He “had a normal day at work, drove home, said he was going to grab a sandwich to his wife, and went and shot himself.”

With its number one drug, Zyprexa on the ropes–Alaska and Louisiana sued Lilly for the Medicaid costs of treating Zyprexa-caused diabetes and CEO John C Lechleiter was caught promoting it off label by the New York Times–Lilly is marketing Cymbalta like its pipeline depends on it.

It used 500 sales reps from slick contract sales organization Quintiles International to launch Cymbalta as well an unspecified number of its own reps and hopes to get approval for fibromyalgia while doctors are still writing the drug.

But bad press for Cymbalta might start sooner than Lilly expects–in a wrongful death suit of Carol Gotbaum who strangled herself with handcuffs while in police custody at the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, AZ in September.

Press reports say the 45-year-old daughter-in-law of a New York City elected official and prominent labor leader was under the influence of Cymbalta.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail