Taking metoclopramide may cause you to develop a muscle problem called tardive dyskinesia. If you develop tardive dyskinesia, you will move your muscles, especially the muscles in your face in unusual ways. You will not be able to control or stop these movements. Tardive dyskinesia may not go away even after you stop taking metoclopramide. The longer you take metoclopramide, the greater the risk that you will develop tardive dyskinesia. Therefore, your doctor will probably tell you not to take metoclopramide for longer than 12 weeks. The risk that you will develop tardive dyskinesia is also greater if you are taking medications for mental illness, if you have diabetes, or if you are elderly, especially if you are a woman. Call your doctor immediately if you develop any uncontrollable body movements, especially lip smacking, mouth puckering, chewing, frowning, scowling, sticking out your tongue, blinking, eye movements, or shaking arms or legs.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with metoclopramide and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085729.htm) or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking metoclopramide.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Metoclopramide is used to relieve heartburn and speed the healing of ulcers and sores in the esophagus (tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) in people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD; condition in which backward flow of acid from the stomach causes heartburn and injury of the esophagus) that did not get better with other treatments. Metoclopramide is also used to relieve symptoms caused by slow stomach emptying in people who have diabetes. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, loss of appetite, and feeling of fullness that lasts long after meals. Metoclopramide is in a class of medications called prokinetic agents. It works by speeding the movement of food through the stomach and intestines.
How should this medicine be used?
Metoclopramide comes as a tablet, an orally disintegrating (dissolving) tablet, and a solution (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken 4 times a day on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before each meal and at bedtime. When metoclopramide is used to treat symptoms of GERD, it may be taken less frequently, especially if symptoms only occur at certain times of day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take metoclopramide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
If you are taking the orally disintegrating tablet, use dry hands to remove the tablet from the package just before you take your dose. If the tablet breaks or crumbles, throw it away and remove a new tablet from the package. Gently remove the tablet and immediately place it on the top of your tongue. The tablet will usually dissolve in about one minute and can be swallowed with saliva.
If you are taking metoclopramide to treat the symptoms of slow stomach emptying caused by diabetes, you should know that your symptoms will not improve all at once. You may notice that your nausea improves early in your treatment and continues to improve over the next 3 weeks. Your vomiting and loss of appetite may also improve early in your treatment, but it may take longer for your feeling of fullness to go away.
Continue to take metoclopramide even if you feel well. Do not stop taking metoclopramide without talking to your doctor. You may experience withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, nervousness, and headaches when you stop taking metoclopramide.
Other uses for this medicine
Metoclopramide is also sometimes used to treat the symptoms of slowed stomach emptying in people who are recovering from certain types of surgery, and to prevent nausea and vomiting in people who are being treated with chemotherapy for cancer. Ask your doctor about the risks of using this medication to treat your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking metoclopramide,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to metoclopramide, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in metoclopramide tablets or solution. Ask your doctor or pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acetaminophen (Tylenol, others); antihistamines; aspirin; atropine (in Lonox, in Lomotil); cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune); barbiturates such as pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), and secobarbital (Seconal); digoxin (Lanoxicaps, Lanoxin); haloperidol (Haldol);insulin; ipratropium (Atrovent); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid); levodopa (in Sinemet, in Stalevo); medications for anxiety, blood pressure, irritable bowel disease, motion sickness, nausea, Parkinson's disease, ulcers, or urinary problems; monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate); narcotic medications for pain; sedatives; sleeping pills; tetracycline (Bristacycline, Sumycin); or tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had blockage, bleeding, or a tear in your stomach or intestines; pheochromocytoma (tumor on a small gland near the kidneys); or seizures. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take metoclopramide.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had Parkinson's disease (PD; a disorder of the nervous system that causes difficulties with movement, muscle control, and balance); high blood pressure; depression; breast cancer; asthma;glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6PD) deficiency (an inherited blood disorder); NADH cytochrome B5 reductase deficiency (an inherited blood disorder); or heart, liver, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking metoclopramide, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking metoclopramide.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking this medication. Alcohol can make the side effects of metoclopramide worse.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your regular diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Metoclopramide may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- excessive tiredness
- breast enlargement or discharge
- missed menstrual period
- decreased sexual ability
- frequent urination
- inability to control urination
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- tightening of the muscles, especially in the jaw or neck
- speech problems
- thinking about harming or killing yourself
- muscle stiffness
- fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
- nervousness or jitteriness
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- foot tapping
- slow or stiff movements
- blank facial expression
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- difficulty keeping your balance
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, mouth, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- sudden weight gain
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- high-pitched sounds while breathing
- vision problems
Metoclopramide may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include
- unusual, uncontrollable movements
- lack of energy
- bluish coloring of the skin
- shortness of breath
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
¶ This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.
Last Reviewed - 09/01/2010