Metoclopramide | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

metoclopramide, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Reglan
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for metoclopramide

Oral tablet
1

Metoclopramide is used to relieve heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s also used to treat symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis. (This is slow stomach emptying in people with diabetes). Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constantly feeling full after meals, and loss of appetite.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet, disintegrating tablet, or solution you take by mouth. It’s also available in intravenous and intramuscular forms. These forms are only given by a healthcare provider.

3

Metoclopramide is available as the brand-name drugs Reglan and Metozolv ODT. It’s also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug can include headache, confusion, trouble sleeping, and restlessness. They can also include sleepiness, dizziness, and exhaustion.

5

In some cases, metoclopramide can cause serious side effects. These can include muscle problems, high fever, and trouble thinking. They can also include depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, and a fast or uneven heart rate.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Movement disorder warning. This drug can cause tardive dyskinesia. This is a disorder that causes uncontrolled movements of your face, tongue, or arms and legs. You should stop taking this drug if you have these symptoms. Your symptoms may improve after you stop taking the drug, or they may be permanent. There’s no treatment for this condition.

Your risk is higher if you take this drug at high doses or use it for a long time. You shouldn’t take this drug for longer than 12 weeks unless your doctor tells you to.

Nervous system disorder

This drug may cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). This is a rare nervous system disorder that may be fatal (cause death). Symptoms include a high body temperature, stiff muscles, confusion, abnormal pulse or blood pressure, fast heart rate, and sweating. Call your doctor right away if you have these symptoms. You’ll have to stop taking this drug if you have this condition.

Uncontrolled spasms

This drug may cause muscle spasms in your face, neck, body, arms, and legs. These spasms can cause abnormal movements and body positions. These are more likely to happen during the first 2 days of your treatment. The risk is higher in children and adults younger than 30 years of age.

Depression

This drug may cause depression. This effect can happen even if you don’t have a history of depression. Your symptoms may be mild to severe, and may include thoughts of suicide. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of depression.

What is metoclopramide?

Metoclopramide is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a tablet, disintegrating tablet, and solution you take by mouth. It’s also available in intravenous and intramuscular forms, which are only given by a healthcare provider.

Metoclopramide is available as the brand-name drugs Reglan and Metozolv ODT. Metoclopramide is also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name versions.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications to treat your condition.

Why it's used

Metoclopramide is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that causes symptoms. GERD occurs when acid flows up from your stomach. This causes heartburn. It may also harm your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach). This drug is used to relieve heartburn and heal sores in your esophagus when other treatments haven’t worked.

More Details

How it works

Metoclopramide belongs to classes of drugs called antiemetics and prokinetics. Antiemetics are used to reduce nausea and vomiting, and prokinetics are used to empty the contents of your stomach faster. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

Why it's used

Metoclopramide is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that causes symptoms. GERD occurs when acid flows up from your stomach. This causes heartburn. It may also harm your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach). This drug is used to relieve heartburn and heal sores in your esophagus when other treatments haven’t worked.

This drug is also used to treat diabetic gastroparesis. Gastroparesis happens when your stomach takes too long to empty its contents. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, loss of appetite, and feeling full long after meals.

How it works

Metoclopramide belongs to classes of drugs called antiemetics and prokinetics. Antiemetics are used to reduce nausea and vomiting, and prokinetics are used to empty the contents of your stomach faster. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by emptying the contents of your stomach. It does this by increasing your stomach muscle contractions. This speeds up the movement of food through your stomach and intestines. It also increases the tightness of your lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle connecting your esophagus and stomach). This stops stomach acid from flowing back up to your esophagus.

This drug also prevents nausea and vomiting. It does this by blocking receptors in your body that are responsible for triggering nausea and vomiting.

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metoclopramide Side Effects

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More common side effects

The more common side effects of metoclopramide can include:

  • headache

  • confusion

  • trouble sleeping

  • dizziness

  • restlessness

  • sleepiness

  • exhaustion

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Uncontrollable movements. Symptoms can include:

    • lip smacking, chewing, or puckering of your mouth
    • frowning
    • sticking your tongue out
    • blinking and moving your eyes
    • shaking your arms and legs
  • Uncontrolled spasms of your face, neck, body, arms, or legs. Symptoms can include:

    • abnormal movements
    • unusual body positions
  • Depression and suicide. Symptoms can include:

    • sadness
    • lack of motivation
    • thoughts of harming or killing yourself
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (nervous system disorder). Symptoms can include:

    • high fever
    • stiff muscles
    • trouble thinking
    • fast or irregular heart rate
    • increased sweating
  • Parkinsonism (symptoms similar to those caused by Parkinson’s disease). Symptoms can include:

    • shaking
    • body stiffness
    • slow movement
    • trouble keeping your balance
    • blank stare with an open mouth
  • Allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

    • rash
    • hives
    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your tongue, lips, or throat 
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Metoclopramide may cause drowsiness. Some people may have dizziness, nervousness, or headaches after they stop taking this drug.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

metoclopramide May Interact with Other Medications

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Metoclopramide can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase the side effects of sleepiness, dizziness, and confusion from metoclopramide. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
  • Side effects from metoclopramide: Taking metoclopramide with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from metoclopramide. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Sedatives, hypnotics, narcotics, antihistamines, and tranquilizers
      • These include diazepam, lorazepam, hydroxyzine, phenobarbital, promethazine, scopolamine, eszopiclone, temazepam, zaleplon, zolpidem, meperidine, propofol, meprobamate, and others.
      • Taking any of these drugs with metoclopramide may increase drowsiness.
    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
      • These include isocarboxazid, phenylzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.
      • Taking these drugs with metoclopramide may increase your blood pressure.
  • Side effects from other drugs: Taking metoclopramide with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Acetaminophen. Metoclopramide increases how much acetaminophen your body absorbs.  This may increase your risk of side effects of acetaminophen, such as liver damage.
    • Tetracycline. Metoclopramide increases how much tetracycline your body absorbs. This may increase your risk of side effects of tetracycline, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
    • Levodopa. Metoclopramide may increase the levels of levodopa in your body. This may increase your risk of movement problems.
    • Cyclosporine. Metoclopramide may increase the levels of cyclosporine in your body. This may raise your risk of kidney problems, digestion problems, and tingling (pins and needles) feeling caused by damage to your nerves.
    • Insulin. Metoclopramide affects how food moves through your body. This may change your blood sugar levels. You may have higher blood sugar levels because food is moving through your stomach and entering your bloodstream faster. Your doctor may adjust your dose of insulin.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective
  • When metoclopramide is less effective: When metoclopramide is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Anticholinergics. These include atropine, benztropine, darifenacin, dicyclomine, fesoterodine, glycopyrrolate, hyoscyamine, methscopolamine, oxybutynin, tolterodine, scopolamine, solifenacin, trihexyphenidyl, and trospium.
    • Narcotics (pain drugs). These include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone.
  • When other drugs are less effective: When certain drugs are used with metoclopramide, they may not work as well. This is because the amount of these drugs in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Digoxin. Your doctor should monitor your digoxin blood levels closely.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Metoclopramide warnings
stomach and intestines
People with stomach or intestinal problems

This drug increases the movement of food in your digestive tract. If you have bleeding, tears or holes, or a blockage in your stomach or intestines, taking this drug may be dangerous. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

tumor warning
People with pheochromocytoma (tumor that releases hormones)

You shouldn’t use this drug. This drug increases your risk of dangerously high blood pressure. This puts you at risk for a stroke.

seizure warning
People with seizures

If you have a history of seizures, you shouldn’t use this drug. It may cause you to have more seizures.

movement disorder warning
People with drug-induced movement disorders

If you’re taking medications for drug-induced movement disorders, you shouldn’t use this drug. It may increase the severity of the movement disorders.

parkinsons disease warning
People with Parkinson’s disease

This drug may make your Parkinson’s disease symptoms worse.

blood disease warning
People with hypertension (high blood pressure)

This drug may increase your blood pressure. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

liver damage warning
People with liver damage or congestive heart failure

This drug may make liver damage or congestive heart failure worse. It increases fluid buildup in your body. If this happens, call your doctor and stop taking this drug.

kidney problem warning
People with kidney problems

You may not be able to clear this drug from your body well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body. This can cause more side effects. Your doctor may start you on a lower dose.

breast cancer warning
People with breast cancer

This drug increases prolactin levels in your body. Prolactin is a hormone that may be responsible for cancerous breast tumors. Tell your doctor if you have a history of breast cancer before starting this drug.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

Metoclopramide is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown a risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

Metoclopramide passes into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

senior warning
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

If you’re older than 65 years of age, you should take the lowest dose of metoclopramide that is effective for you. As your dose increases, your risk of symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease (shaking, body stiffness, moving slowly, and staring blankly with your mouth open) increases. You’re also at a greater risk for uncontrolled movements of your face, tongue, arms, and legs. This effect may be permanent.

This drug can also cause confusion in seniors.

childrens warning
For children

This drug hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

This drug may be more likely to cause movement disorders in children than in adults.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after taking this drug for 2 days.

allergy warning
Allergies

Metoclopramide can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take metoclopramide (Dosage)

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All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux

Generic: Metoclopramide

Form: oral solution
Strengths: 5 mg/ 5 mL
Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Form: orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Reglan

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Metozolv ODT

Form: orally disintegrating tablet
Strength: 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 10–15 mg taken up to four times per day. You should take this drug 30 minutes before each meal and at bedtime.
  • Dosage changes: Your doctor may change your dosage depending on your symptoms, side effects, and response to the drug.
  • Length of treatment: You shouldn’t take this drug for longer than 12 weeks.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of the drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance is below 40 mL/min, your doctor will give you about half of the typical starting dosage. They may change your dosage based on how your body responds to the drug.

Diabetic gastroparesis

Generic: Metoclopramide

Form: oral solution
Strengths: 5 mg/ 5 mL
Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Form: orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Reglan

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Metozolv ODT

Form: orally disintegrating tablet
Strength: 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 10 mg taken up to four times per day. You should take this drug 30 minutes before each meal and at bedtime.
  • Dosage changes: Your doctor may decrease your dosage depending on your symptoms, side effects, and response to the drug.
  • Length of treatment: 2–8 weeks
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of the drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance is below 40 mL/min, your doctor will give you about half of the typical starting dosage. They may change your dosage based on how your body responds to the drug.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Metoclopramide comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your symptoms may not get better. They may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of metoclopramide can include:

  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • abnormal body movements
  • muscle stiffness
  • uncontrolled movements of your face, tongue, or arms and legs

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms should improve.

Metoclopramide is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking metoclopramide

Cutting the tablet

  • You can cut the oral tablets.
  • You shouldn’t cut the disintegrating tablets. If the tablet breaks or crumbles when you take it out of the package, you should throw it away. Take a new, intact tablet.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store metoclopramide at room temperature. Keep it between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep the oral solution in the bottle it comes in. Keep the bottle tightly closed.
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Mental health and behavioral problems. You and your doctor should watch for any unusual changes in your behavior and mood. This drug can cause new mental health and behavior problems. It may also make problems you already have worse.
  • Blood pressure. This drug can increase your blood pressure.
  • Weight. This drug may make you lose weight or gain weight.

Not every pharmacy stocks metoclopramide disintegrating tablets

However, most will have the oral tablets and solution. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does metoclopramide Cost?

Oral tablet

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for metoclopramide on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on December 21, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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