North Carolina Workers' Compensation Doctors To Prescribe Cymbalta?

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

Eli Lilly & Co. has been pushing for expanded use of one of its major drugs (Cymbalta) in recent months. Cymbalta is widely marketed as an antidepressant. Cymbalta is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression, diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, and anxiety.  The FDA does warn against a variety of potential side-effects from Cymbalta, including: increased suicide rates in younger populations, hepatoxicity, potential liver damage, effects on blood pressure, and risk of bleeding. Nonetheless, 2009 sales for the drug surpassed $3,000,000,000.00.

Eli Lilly & Co. is now seeking FDA approval for the drug's use for chronic pain.  The FDA's approval of Cymbalta for this purpose would be the first such approval of a non-traditional analgesic for treatment of chronic pain.  If approved, doctors would presumably prescribe Cymbalta more freely to treat conditions such as arthritis and back pain.  On 08/19/20, The FDA's Anesthetic and Life Support Drugs Advisory Committee voted to approve the expansion of the drug to treat pain in the broader population.  However, the panel recommended utilizing the drug for treatment of lower back pain, while voting against use of it for arthritis of the knee.

While the notion seems to be common sense, the FDA issued a statement that its approval of Cymbalta for treatment of chronic pain will result in more widespread use.  However, data comprised for 2009 revealed that two-thirds of such prescriptions were for "off label" / unapproved uses.  This data suggests the possibility that the FDA's approval of the drug to treat chronic pain may have a lesser effect than the FDA indicates is likely.

So how could this drug's approval by the FDA impact workers' compensation claimants?  I routinely see adjusters and defense attorneys arguing any plausible basis to deny authorization for medical treatment recommended by a physician.  Such a basis has certainly included a drug's / medical procedure's lack of FDA approval.  We're likely to see physicians in workers' compensation claims prescribing Cymbalta to Plaintiffs in the future on a more common basis if / when this drug obtains formal FDA approval.  As this occurs, we will encounter the additional concerns of whether it is the most appropriate drug to be utilized and the myriad of side-effects noted above.  Of course, such issues are often difficult to manage given the insurance company's right to direct medical care (pick the doctor) in a compensable workers' compensation claim.  I believe one additional benefit of a more streamlined practice is a direct, "working" knowledge of my client's treatment, which helps address some of these very issues.

Lilly Moves Closer to Approval to Market Cymbalta for Chronic Pain, The New York Times 08/19/2010

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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