Pharmaceutical

New Jersey judge calls for consolidation of Reglan lawsuits

A New Jersey judge is calling for a statewide consolidation of all lawsuits filed against the makers of the heartburn medication Reglan that involve claims that the drug caused a serious and debilitating movement disorder known as Tardive Dyskinesia. Judge Eugene J. Codey, Jr., of the Essex County Superior Court, filed the request arguing that the New Jersey court system could better handle the mounting number of lawsuits if they were all centralized in one court. The primary defendant in the lawsuits, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, is headquartered in New Jersey.

In his consolidation request to the administrative director of the courts of New Jersey, Judge Codey warned that more lawsuits against the manufacturers of Reglan would likely increase in the months to come. “Cases have started coming to Essex on a weekly basis.” Plaintiffs have until May 14, 2010 to comment or object to the application for consolidation.

Reglan and its generic metoclopramide are prescribed for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions such as severe heartburn and acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Long-tern use (12 weeks or longer) has been associated with the involuntary movement disorder Tardive Dyskinesia. Symptoms of the condition include lip smacking, tongue thrusting, eyes blinking and bulging, head jerking, facial grimacing, puckering and pursing of the lips, and involuntary movements of the fingers. There is no known cure for Tardive Dyskinesia and the symptoms may persist even after the drug has been discontinued.

All lawsuits filed against Reglan allege that the manufacturers of the drug did note adequately warn consumers of the elevated risk of Tardive Dyskinesia with taking the medication.