An Atlanta woman is suing Pliva, Inc., makers of the prescription heartburn medication metoclopramide, alleging that the drug company failed to adequately warn physicians of the long-term risks involved with taking metoclopramide. Susan Swicegood says metoclopramide caused her to suffer from a debilitating neurological disorder known as Tardive Dyskinesia, which involves involuntary muscular movements. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and will be heard by a jury next week.
According to the complaint, Swicegood was prescribed 10 mg Reglan to be taken four times daily. Reglan is the brand name equivalent of the generic metoclopramide. Metoclopramide is made by various pharmaceutical companies but the active ingredient is the same as the name brand. Swicegood says she followed her doctor’s orders but developed Tardive Dyskinesia. Studies suggest that long-term use of metoclopramide – 12 weeks or more – puts users at a startling 20 percent greater risk of developing the condition.
Swicegood’s lawsuit is one of more than 150 that have been filed against drug makers on behalf of plaintiffs who say they were not warned of the serious side effects of metoclopramide. The first lawsuit was filed in 1998. More than a decade later – February 2009 – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning on metoclopramide alerting physicians and patients of a risk of Tardive Dyskinesia.
Last spring, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a request to consolidate the federal litigation on metoclopramide lawsuits, saying it was more appropriate for them to be heard in different courts throughout the U.S.