Reglan Litigation Centralized in New Jersey State Court

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ordered that all Reglan lawsuits filed throughout the state will be centralized for case management purposes before one judge in Atlantic County. 

Following a petition to centralize the Reglan litigation filed in March 2010, the Court determined that the Reglan cases should be assigned to Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higbee, who has substantial experience with complex litigation involving pharmaceutical claims. However, the litigation will not be given a mass tort designation, meaning they will not be consolidated for pretrial litigation and each case will proceed through discovery and other phases individually.

All of the Reglan suits in New Jersey involve similar allegations that the manufacturers of the brand medication or generic versions, known as metoclopramide, failed to adequately warn about the risk of tardive dyskinesia from Reglan, a serious movement disorder that can have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life.

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Judge Higbee will oversee all management and trial issues in the lawsuits, which will help avoid contradictory rulings and lessen the load on the rest of the state’s courts, so that only one court staff will have to become familiar with Reglan litigation, as opposed to dozens across the state. It is estimated that hundreds of lawsuits over Reglan will be filed throughout the state, as a number of Reglan lawyers have been advertising for clients following the FDA’s decision last year to add a “black box” warning about tardive dyskinesia to all of the metoclopramide-based drugs.

Reglan (metoclopramide) is 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 the rare movement disorder tardive dyskinesia.

Reglan induced tardive dyskinesia is associated with repetitive and involuntary movements, particularly involving 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 even after use of the drug has stopped.

Last year, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected an attempt to consolidate and centralize the Reglan litigation in federal court for pretrial proceedings. Therefore, all of the federal cases are currently proceeding in different courts throughout the country with different scheduling orders and trial dates. A Reglan trial is currently underway in one of those cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.


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