Last night, a facebook friend shared a status from one of her friends saying there was a shortage of Cymbalta, or Duloxetine, in Australia. And by shortage I mean absolutely none left until December. Apparently this woman was not made aware until she went to the chemist to fill her script and was told they were all out. And this was a problem because she had waited until she was completely out before going to get more.
(Medicated friends – never ever do this. I don’t as a rule.)
For those not in the know Cymbalta belongs to the unconventional class of antidepressants known as the serotonin – norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs) For those of us with mental illnesses it is used for depression and anxiety but is also used to treat chronic pain.
This drug is not one of the cocktail that I take – a doctor that I don’t normally see considered putting me on it a couple of years ago but we mutually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best fit. But being part of the mental health community naturally I take interest to such a crisis that may affect other spoonies that I know so here we are.
I couldn’t actually find any media coverage of this shortage – amazing! I bet if we had a warfarin shortage or a chemo drug the media would be all over that (insert eye roll emoji) the truth is I couldn’t find any data that indicates how many people in Australia this actually affects, so I don’t know the magnitude of the problem.
So I turned to someone who might know – my dad. He’s a GP, not a psychiatrist but manages quite a few patients on Cymbalta.
Unlike the woman on facebook, he has been aware of the shortage for a few weeks and has been trying to get his patients onto alternatives. Cymbalta comes in two strengths, and he’s not sure if both are out.
So if this affects you, what should you do?
Do NOT go cold turkey, says dad. Ring your GP and your psychiatrist and try to get in asap. If you’re thinking, yeah right as if I can get a quick appointment with a psychiatrist you might be surprised what they might do for you in a dire situation. My psychiatrist’s receptionist told me she doesn’t do emergency appointments but when I rang her directly and told her I hadn’t slept for four days she got me in that day.
So if this affects you, good luck. I hope you find a good alternative, and withdrawal isn’t too difficult.