Reglan is one of the brand names for a medication called metoclopramide which is used to aid digestion by increasing stomach contractions. Metoclopramide is also manufactured under the brand names Maxolon and Octamide. Since its introduction in the 1980s, many serious side effects, including tardive dyskinesia, have been noted in patients taking Reglan. Reglan comes in liquid form and pill form; it is also given by injection.
Conditions Reglan is prescribed for
Reglan is primarily prescribed for gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a condition in which stomach contractions are slow or non-existent. People with gastroparesis experience pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and a feeling of fullness in the stomach. Diabetes can cause gastroparesis, but people without diabetes can also develop the condition.
Reglan is also used to prevent vomiting and nausea from chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Reglan prevents vomiting by blocking the dopamine and serotonin receptors in the medulla (the part of the brain where the mechanism controlling vomiting is located).
In addition, Reglan is used prevent acid reflux. Because Reglan is a powerful drug it is only used as a last resort for acid reflux, when other options have failed. The manufacturer of the drug specifies that Reglan should be taken no longer than twelve weeks for acid reflux.
Its usefulness in preventing acid reflux has also led to Reglan being used to prevent aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia, which can be deadly, occurs when food is inhaled into the lungs. The elderly are most prone to aspiration pneumonia, but anyone in a weakened condition who has trouble swallowing can be at risk. Having acid reflux and/or a hiatal hernia contributes to the risk.
Reglan may also be prescribed to prevent reflux when a tube is inserted into the stomach. For this reason it has also been used to facilitate certain specialized stomach x-rays. Persistent hiccups have also been treated with Reglan.
In addition, headaches which are due to a disorder of the cranial blood vessels may be treated with Reglan or another metoclopramide-containing medication.
Side Effects of Reglan
Reglan is known to cause serious side effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, and tardive dyskinesia. People with a history of depression are cautioned not to take any drug containing metoclopramide. Reglan is also known to cause restlessness and anxiety. It can also cause drowsiness and fatigue.
Reglan can increase seizures in people with epilepsy and should not be taken by people with epilepsy. It should also not be taken by people with a benign tumor of adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma) which causes high blood pressure; Reglan can cause blood pressure to go dangerously high in people with this condition.
People with perforations, hemorrhage or blockage of the bowels should also never use Reglan, since it increases bowel action.
Reglan can make Parkinson symptoms worse and its use by Parkinson patients is controversial.
FDA Warnings about Reglan and Tardive Dyskinesia
In February 2009, the Federal Food Drug Administration ordered that Reglan and other drugs containing metoclopramide post a “black box” warning on the label. “Black box” warnings are the strongest warning mandated by the FDA. The “black box” must clearly state that drugs containing metoclopramide can cause tardive dyskinesia with long term use (three months or longer for people under age 65; a month for people over age 65).
Tardive dyskinesia is a disturbing condition characterized by slow, writhing, involuntary movements, particularly of the face. In rare cases tardive dyskinesia can make breathing difficult. In most cases, tardive dyskinesia is permanent; its symptoms may ease after the drug is discontinued, but they are unlikely to disappear entirely.
The elderly are especially prone to develop tardive dyskinesia; women are more likely than men to develop the condition. Elderly people (age 65 and up) are more sensitive to medicines and should receive smaller doses. Tardive dyskinesia may develop in an elderly patient after only a month on Reglan or some other metoclopramide-containing drug. Tardive dyskinesia symptoms may also initially appear after the drug is discontinued.
Over two million people in the U.S. are taking some form of metoclopramide-containing medication. The FDA reports that metoclopramide-containing medications are now the most widely used medications known to cause tardive dyskinesia. If you have been diagnosed with Tardive Dyskinesia and have been using the drug reglan, contact a Reglan lawyer immediately.