Metoclopramide (commonly known as Reglan) is a drug used to treat upper gastrointestinal disorders. The drug speeds up the movement of contractions in the stomach and allows food to empty easily into the intestines. Reglan is used primarily to treat individuals with diabetic gastroparesis, a condition that does not allow the stomach muscles to contract. The symptoms associated with this condition are nausea, vomiting, heartburn, feelings of indigestion, persistent fullness after meals, and appetite loss.
Reglan is also used to treat GERD (gastroesophageal disorder), erosive esophagitis in children, and nausea in pregnant women.
On Feb. 26, 2009, the FDA noted an unsettling link between Metoclopramide and Tardive Dyskinesia, an incurable disease. The symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia are likened to Parkinson’s Disease. Patients with TD have a range of symptoms including, but not limited to, facial grimacing, head pulling to one side, tongue protrusion, jaw aches, spasms, lip smacking, puckering, pursing, and rapid eye blinking. Rapid movements of the arms, legs, and trunk may also occur. Other symptoms include, difficulty swallowing, choking, eating, speaking, breathing, and walking.
There is no cure for TD even after medications are stopped. The black box warning the FDA placed on all Reglan packaging is the highest level of warning that can be placed on a a medication label. Current Reglan and prescriptions now warn of the risk of developing Tardive Dyskinesia. With more than two million Americans taking Reglan before 2009, this warning by the FDA may have come too late. The FDA did an analysis survey that shows that at least 20% of all persons taking Metoclopramide have taken it for longer than three months and have developed the spontaneous side effects associated with Tardive Dyskinesia. This condition causes severe psychological, emotional, and physical trauma to those affected.