Reglan® (the generic is metoclopramide) is a medication that helps the stomach empty more quickly by activating certain muscles. It is used primarily to treat patients with:

  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

In patients with GERD, the contents of the stomach move backwards up into the esophagus, causing discomfort and a burning sensation. Some patients with diabetes have what is called a "lazy stomach." The stomach contents in these people don't empty quickly enough into the intestines. This results in high blood glucose levels.

Reglan® also is used:

  • To relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery
  • To empty the stomach before x-rays are taken
  • To relieve nausea and vomiting in patients on chemotherapy
  • To facilitate small bowel intubation

Reglan® and Tardive Dyskinesia

When used in high doses over an extended period of time, Reglan® has been linked to a severe movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. People with this disorder cannot control the muscles of their faces, and sometimes the muscles of the arms, legs, and fingers.

Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia

The unusual facial movements may include:

  • Smacking and pursing of the lips
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Sticking the tongue in and out
  • Grimacing

Sometimes the arms and legs as well as the torso exhibit abnormal movement as well, but more often it is the fingers that move uncontrollably. Some have said the finger movements look like those of a person playing the guitar or violin.

In addition to abnormal movement, Reglan® has been associated with symptoms like those of Parkinson's disease, fluid retention, blood volume overload and worsened hypertension.

The FDA and Reglan®

The adverse side effects of Reglan® led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a press release in February 2009 and to require a change to the medication label of this drug. The FDA warned that long-term or high-dose use of the medication could cause tardive dyskinesia.

The agency required the drug manufacturers to implement a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) to ensure that Reglan® patients receive a medication guide explaining the dangers and risks getting tardive dyskinesia. The FDA requires drug makers to use REMS when there are known severe dangers associated with certain drugs.

The FDA said in a press release, "development of this condition [tardive dyskinesia] is directly related to the length of time a patient is taking metoclopramide and the number of doses taken."

At present, there is no known treatment for the disorder and it is rarely reversible, although symptoms may lessen or stop once the patient stops taking the drug.

"Recently published analyses suggest that metoclopramide is the most common cause of drug-induced movement disorders," the FDA news release said.

Contact a Reglan® Tardive Dyskinesia Lawyer

If you're battling with the movement disorder after being prescribed Reglan®, you might consider speaking with an attorney. To find out if you are eligible to recover financial compensation for your suffering, contact a Reglan® lawyer today.