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Reglan Lawsuits Over Tardive Dyskinesia Continue to Mount

More than 20 years after the first Reglan lawsuit over tardive dyskinesia was filed, new claims continue to be brought in courts throughout the United States alleging that manufacturers of the brand name and generic versions of the heartburn drug failed to adequately warn about the risk of developing the rare movement disorder. 

This month, Isreal Bennett, of Westwego, Louisiana, filed a lawsuit over generic Reglan against Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Bennett’s lawsuit claims he took Qualitest’s generic Reglan from at least December 2008 through May 2009 and developed tardive dyskinesia as a result.

Reglan, which is also known as generic metocrlopramide, is a drug approved for the short-term treatment of gastrointestinal disorders like diabetic gastroparesis, gastroesphageal reflux (GERD) and delayed gastric emptying. However, it is often prescribed for longer periods of time due to the often chronic persistence of those ailments, which has been shown to increase the risk of tardive dyskinesia and other injuries.

Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological movement disorder that causes repetitive and involuntary movements of the lower face and limbs. Symptoms can include grimacing, chewing, smacking of lips, rapid eye movements and impaired finger movements. There is no known effective treatment of the disorder, and involuntary movements can become permanent, persisting after use of the drug has stopped.

Although the first tardive dyskinesia lawsuit over Reglan was filed in 1998, the number of cases began to spike after the FDA required the manufacturers of all metoclopramide-containing drugs to add a “black box” warning about the potential Reglan problems in February 2009.

The Reglan lawsuits all involve common allegations that the manufacturers failed to adequately investigate and study the drug, or adequately warn about the extent of the risk that users may suffer tardive dyskinesia side effects of Reglan when the medication is used over longer periods of time.

It is unclear exactly how many Reglan lawsuits are currently pending in state and federal courts throughout the United States, since there is currently no coordination of the litigation.

In June 2009, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a request to consolidate the federal Reglan litigation, indicating that consolidation was not appropriate because the cases involve various different drug makers. In opposing the plaintiffs’ request to consolidate at least 11 cases pending at that time, the drug makers told the panel that more than 70 Reglan lawsuits had been filed in state and federal courts since 1998, with approximately 80% of those cases resolving.

Since that time, new Reglan cases have continued to be filed in courts across the country and Reglan lawyers are continuing to investigate new cases for individuals diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia or suffering symptoms of the movement disorder. Those lawsuits are currently proceeding as individual actions, with different discovery and trial schedules.

In March 2010, a request was made to centralize New Jersey state court lawsuits over Reglan, indicating that two law firms were planning to file between 75 and 100 Reglan suits in that state. According to the New Jersey Judiciary Mass Tort Information website, a decision has not yet been posted about whether those state court actions will be coordinated before one judge.

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