Medically reviewed on March 25, 2018
(met oh KLOE pra mide)
- Metoclopramide HCl
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product
Generic: 5 mg/mL (2 mL)
Solution, Injection [preservative free]:
Generic: 5 mg/mL (2 mL)
Generic: 5 mg/5 mL (10 mL, 473 mL); 10 mg/10 mL (10 mL)
Reglan: 5 mg [contains fd&c blue #1 aluminum lake, fd&c yellow #10 aluminum lake]
Reglan: 10 mg [dye free]
Generic: 5 mg, 10 mg
Tablet Disintegrating, Oral:
Metozolv ODT: 5 mg [DSC]
Generic: 5 mg, 10 mg
Brand Names: U.S.
- Metozolv ODT [DSC]
- Gastrointestinal Agent, Prokinetic
Blocks dopamine receptors and (when given in higher doses) also blocks serotonin receptors in chemoreceptor trigger zone of the CNS; enhances the response to acetylcholine of tissue in upper GI tract causing enhanced motility and accelerated gastric emptying without stimulating gastric, biliary, or pancreatic secretions; increases lower esophageal sphincter tone
Oral: Rapid, well absorbed
Vd: Neonates, PMA 31 to 40 weeks: 6.94 L/kg (Kearns 1998); Infants: 4.4 L/kg; Children: 3 L/kg; Adults: ~3.5 L/kg
Urine (~85%); feces
Onset of Action
Oral: 30 to 60 minutes; IV: 1 to 3 minutes; IM: 10 to 15 minutes
Time to Peak
Serum: Oral: Neonates, PMA 31 to 40 weeks: 2.45 hours (Kearns 1998); Infants: 2.2 hours; Adults: 1 to 2 hours
Duration of Action
Therapeutic: 1 to 2 hours, regardless of route
Normal renal function: Neonates, PMA 31 to 40 weeks: 5.4 hours (Kearns 1998); Infants: 4.15 hours (range: 2.23 to 10.3 hours) (Kearns, 1988); Children: ~4 hours (range: 2 to 12.5 hours); half-life and clearance may be dose-dependent; Adults: 5 to 6 hours (may be dose dependent)
Special Populations: Renal Function Impairment
AUC increased ~2-fold in patients with moderate to severe renal impairment and ~3.5 fold in patients with ESRD on dialysis.
Special Populations: Hepatic Function Impairment
Clearance was reduced by ~50% in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
Special Populations Note
CYP2D6 poor metabolizers: Elimination may be slowed.
Use: Labeled Indications
Diabetic gastroparesis (diabetic gastric stasis): Relief of symptoms associated with acute and recurrent diabetic gastric stasis.
Prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with emetogenic cancer chemotherapy: Prophylaxis of vomiting associated with emetogenic cancer chemotherapy.
Prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: Prophylaxis of postoperative nausea and vomiting in circumstances where nasogastric suction is undesirable.
Radiological examination: To stimulate gastric emptying and intestinal transit of barium when delayed emptying interferes with radiological examination of the stomach and/or small intestine.
Small bowel intubation: To facilitate small bowel intubation in adults and pediatrics in whom the tube does not pass the pylorus with conventional maneuvers.
Diabetic gastroparesis: Relief of symptoms associated with acute and recurrent diabetic gastroparesis in adults.
Gastroesophageal reflux: Short-term (4 to 12 weeks) treatment in adults with documented symptomatic GERD who fail to respond to conventional therapy.
Off Label Uses
Limited data are available regarding the use of metoclopramide for treatment of gastric bezoars. Noncontrolled studies and case reports have demonstrated efficacy. However, without more robust controlled studies, a definitive role of metoclopramide for this use cannot be determined.
Gastroparesis (regardless of etiology)
Based on the American College of Gastroenterology Clinical Guideline: Management of Gastroparesis, metoclopramide given for treatment of gastroparesis regardless of the etiology is effective and recommended in the management of this condition.
In the limited published experience, metoclopramide has been effective for prevention and treatment of hiccups. Of note, the drug is not universally efficacious in this setting. When used as a preventive measure, some patients still experience hiccups. As a treatment, cases of delayed onset of efficacy and cases of only partial efficacy have been reported. Nevertheless, the generally benign adverse reaction profile, including in elderly patients and patients with serious underlying medical conditions, suggests a risk-benefit ratio favoring a therapeutic trial of metoclopramide in the absence of contraindications of therapy.
Based on the American Headache Society and the European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS) guidelines on the drug treatment of migraine, the use of IV metoclopramide for the treatment of migraines is effective and recommended in the management of acute migraine [AHS [Orr 2016]], [EFNS [Evers 2009]]. While IV administration is preferred, the IM, Oral, and subcutaneous routes may also be used [EFNS [Evers 2009]].
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
Data from 2 randomized, double-blind, active-controlled studies supports the use of metoclopramide in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum [Abas 2014], [Tan 2010]. Additional trials may be necessary to further define the role of metoclopramide in this condition.
Based on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy guidelines, the use of metoclopramide may be considered for adjunctive treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when symptoms persist following initial pharmacologic therapy.
Prevention of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting (pediatrics)
Based on the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) guidelines for Prevention of Acute Nausea and Vomiting Due to Antineoplastic Medication in Pediatric Cancer Patients, metoclopramide may be used for moderately emetogenic chemotherapy in patients who cannot receive corticosteroids.
Prevention of radiation therapy-induced nausea and vomiting (minimal emetic risk)
Based on the American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Update for Antiemesis, metoclopramide (oral) maybe be used for the prevention of radiation therapy-induced nausea and vomiting when emetic risk is minimal.
Treatment of nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer
According to the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer and The European Society of Medical Oncology (MASCC/ESMO) 2016 antiemetic practice guideline update, metoclopramide is the antiemetic drug of choice for palliative management of nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer, except in cases with bowel obstruction. MASCC/ESMO 2016 guidelines for Management of Nausea and Vomiting in Advanced Cancer also recommend metoclopramide as the antiemetic drug of choice in patients without bowel obstruction.
Hypersensitivity (eg, laryngeal and glossal angioedema, bronchospasm) to metoclopramide or any component of the formulation; situations where stimulation of gastrointestinal (GI) motility may be dangerous, including mechanical GI obstruction, perforation, or hemorrhage (except when used prior to endoscopy for evaluation of acute upper GI bleeding [Barkun 2010]); pheochromocytoma or other catecholamine-releasing paragangliomas; seizure disorder (eg, epilepsy); history of tardive dyskinesia or dystonic reaction to metoclopramide; concomitant use with other agents likely to increase extrapyramidal reactions.
Canadian labeling: Additional contraindications (not in the US labeling): Infants <1 year of age.
Diabetic gastroparesis: Note: American Diabetes Association guidelines state that use should be reserved for severe cases that are unresponsive to other therapies; when used, duration should be ≤5 days (ADA 2018).
Oral (acute and recurrent): Manufacturer’s labeling: 10 mg 4 times daily for 2 to 8 weeks (maximum: 40 mg/day). Do not treat for >12 weeks. Note: 5 mg 4 times daily (maximum: 20 mg/day) is recommended for poor metabolizers of CYP2D6.
IM, IV (for severe symptoms): 10 mg over 1 to 2 minutes; 10 days of IV therapy may be necessary before symptoms are controlled to allow transition to oral administration.
Gastroparesis management, regardless of etiology (off-label use): American College of Gastroenterology Guidelines: Oral: Initial: 5 mg 3 times daily before meals. Dosage range: 5 to 10 mg 2 to 3 times daily before meals (maximum: 40 mg daily). Liquid formulation is preferred (to increase absorption) and the use of drug holidays or dose reductions (eg, 5 mg before the two main meals of the day) is also recommended when clinically possible (Camilleri 2013).
Gastroesophageal reflux: Oral:
Continuous dosing: 10 to 15 mg 4 times daily for 4 to 12 weeks (maximum: 60 mg/day). Note: 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg 3 times daily (maximum: 30 mg/day) is recommended for poor metabolizers of CYP2D6.
Intermittent dosing: Single doses up to 20 mg (prior to provoking situation) if symptoms occur only intermittently or at specific times of the day. Do not treat >12 weeks.
Prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with emetogenic chemotherapy: IV: Note: Pretreatment with diphenhydramine will decrease risk of extrapyramidal reactions.
Highly emetogenic: Initial dose: 2 mg/kg over 15 minutes 30 minutes before chemotherapy; repeat every 2 hours for 2 doses, then every 3 hours for 3 doses.
Less emetogenic: Initial dose: 1 mg/kg over 15 minutes 30 minutes before chemotherapy; repeat every 2 hours for 2 doses, then every 3 hours for 3 doses.
Delayed-emesis prophylaxis (off-label): Oral: 20 to 40 mg (or 0.5 mg/kg/dose) 2 to 4 times daily for 3 to 4 days in combination with dexamethasone (ASCO guidelines (Kris 2006]).
Refractory or intolerant to antiemetics with a higher therapeutic index (off-label) (Hesketh 2008):
IV: 1 to 2 mg/kg/dose before chemotherapy and repeat 2 hours after chemotherapy.
Oral: 0.5 mg/kg every 6 hours on days 2 to 4.
Prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting:
IM, IV (off-label route): Usual dose: 10 mg near end of surgery; some patients may require 20 mg. Note: Guidelines discourage use of 10 mg metoclopramide due to lack of effectiveness (Gan 2007); comparative study indicates higher dose (20 mg) may be efficacious (Quaynor 2002).
Oral (off-label route): 20 mg orally 2 hours prior to anesthesia has been recommended (Metonia Canadian product labeling).
IV: 10 mg as a single dose
Oral (off-label route): 20 mg as a single dose 5 to 10 minutes prior to exam (Metonia Canadian product labeling 2014).
Small bowel intubation (postpyloric feeding tube placement): IV: 10 mg as a single dose.
Gastric bezoars (off-label use): Oral, IV: 5 to 10 mg 3 to 4 times daily until resolution (Gaya 2002; Winkler 1983). To prevent further bezoar formation, metoclopramide was continued for up to 16 months in one study (Winkler 1983). Additional data may be necessary to further define the role of metoclopramide in the treatment of this condition.
Continuous infusion: IV: 40 mg administered over 24 hours for 3 days; may repeat if bezoar is not cleared (Delpre 1984).
Hiccups (off-label use): Note: Additional data may be necessary to further define the role of metoclopramide in the prevention and treatment of this condition.
IV: 0.17 mg/kg as a single dose starting the day of or 1 day before anticipated hiccup-precipitating event (Stav 1992).
Oral: 10 mg every 6 to 8 hours starting the day of or 1 day before anticipated hiccup-precipitating event (Baethge 1986; Cersosimo 1998).
IV, IM: 5 to 10 mg every 8 hours (Madanagopolan 1975; Middleton 1973). Therapy may begin with parenteral dosing and transition to oral dosing (10 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours) when hiccups are controlled. Treatment usually continues until metoclopramide can be withdrawn without provoking a recurrence (Friedman 1996).
Oral: 10 mg every 6 to 8 hours (Madanagopolan 1975; Middleton 1973).
Migraine (acute) (off-label use): Note: The IV route is preferred by the American Headache Society (AHS [Orr 2016]).
Oral: 10 to 20 mg as a single dose (EFNS [Evers 2009]).
IM, SubQ: 10 mg as a single dose (EFNS [Evers 2009]).
IV: 10 to 20 mg as a single dose (AHS [Orr 2016]; EFNS [Evers 2009]).
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (off-label use): Note: Some guidelines recommended a maximum duration of 5 days (ROGC 2016).
Oral: 5 to 10 mg every 6 to 8 hours (ACOG 189 2018)
IM: 5 to 10 mg every 6 to 8 hours (ACOG 189 2018)
IV: 5 to 10 mg every 8 hours (ACOG 189 2018)
Prevention of radiation therapy-induced nausea and vomiting (minimal emetic risk) (off-label use): Oral: 20 mg as rescue therapy; if rescue therapy is used, then administer prior to each fraction until the end of radiation therapy (Basch 2011).
Treatment of nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer (off-label use): Oral, IV, IM, SubQ (off-label route): 5 mg four times a day (30 minutes prior to meals and at bedtime) (Protus 2015).
Dosage adjustment for concomitant therapy:
CYP2D6 inhibitors (eg, bupropion, fluoxetine, quinidine, paroxetine): Oral:
Diabetic gastroparesis: 5 mg 4 times daily (maximum: 20 mg/day)
Gastroesophageal reflux: 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg 3 times daily (maximum: 30 mg/day)
Initial: Dose at the lower end of the recommended range (may require only 5 mg/dose) and use the lowest effective dose. Refer to adult dosing.
Small bowel intubation (postpyloric feeding tube placement): Children and Adolescents: IV:
<6 years: 0.1 mg/kg as a single dose
6 to 14 years: 2.5 to 5 mg as a single dose
>14 years: Refer to adult dosing.
Prevention of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting (off-label use): Children and Adolescents: Moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (patients who cannot receive corticosteroids): IV: 1 mg/kg prior to chemotherapy, followed by Oral: 0.0375 mg/kg every 6 hours; regimen also includes ondansetron or granisetron; coadministration of diphenhydramine or benztropine is recommended to prevent metoclopramide-induced adverse effects (Dupuis 2013).
Dosing: Renal Impairment
CrCl ≥40 mL/minute: There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling.
CrCl <40 mL/minute: Initial: Administer ~50% of normal dose.
CrCl > 60 mL/minute: No dosage adjustment necessary.
CrCl ≤60 mL/minute: 5 mg 4 times daily (maximum: 20 mg/day).
ESRD: 5 mg twice daily (maximum: 10 mg/day).
Hemodialysis and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis: 5 mg twice daily (maximum: 10 mg/day).
CrCl > 60 mL/minute: No dosage adjustment necessary.
CrCl ≤60 mL/minute: 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg 3 times daily (maximum: 30 mg/day).
ESRD: 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg twice daily (maximum: 20 mg/day).
Hemodialysis and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis: 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg twice daily (maximum: 20 mg/day).
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
IV: There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling. However, metoclopramide has been used safely in patients with advanced liver disease with normal renal function.
Mild impairment (Child-Pugh class A): No dosage adjustment necessary.
Moderate or severe impairment (Child-Pugh class B or C): 5 mg 4 times daily (maximum: 20 mg/day).
Mild impairment (Child-Pugh class A): No dosage adjustment necessary.
Moderate or severe impairment (Child-Pugh class B or C): 5 mg 4 times daily or 10 mg 3 times daily (maximum: 30 mg/day).
Injection: Lower doses (≤10 mg): No dilution required; Higher doses (>10 mg): Dilute in 50 mL of compatible solution (preferably NS).
Injection: May be given IM, direct IV push, short infusion (at least 15 minutes), or continuous infusion; lower doses (≤10 mg) of metoclopramide can be given IV push undiluted over 1 to 2 minutes; higher doses (>10 mg) to be diluted in 50 mL of compatible solution (preferably NS) and given IVPB over at least 15 minutes. Note: Rapid IV administration may be associated with a transient (but intense) feeling of anxiety and restlessness, followed by drowsiness.
Tablets and oral solution: Administer 30 minutes prior to meals and at bedtime.
Orally disintegrating tablets: Administer on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes prior to food and at bedtime (do not repeat if inadvertently taken with food). Do not remove from packaging until time of administration. If tablet breaks or crumbles while handling, discard and remove new tablet. Using dry hands, place tablet on tongue and allow to dissolve (disintegrates within ~1 minute [range: 10 seconds to 14 minutes]). Swallow with saliva (formulation is designed to be taken without liquids).
Subcutaneous administration (off-label route) has been reported, either as an intermittent bolus injection or as continuous infusion (Bruera 1996; McCallum 1991).
Injection: Store intact vials at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F); protect from light. Injection is photosensitive and should be protected from light during storage; parenteral admixtures in D5W, D51/2NS, NS, LR, or Ringer's injection are stable for up to 24 hours after preparation at normal light conditions or up to 48 hours if protected from light. When mixed with NS, can be stored frozen for up to 4 weeks; metoclopramide is degraded when admixed and frozen with D5W.
Oral solution/orally disintegrating tablet/tablet: Store at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Protect from light. Do not freeze oral solution. Keep orally disintegrating tablet in original packaging until just prior to use.
Anticholinergic Agents: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic). Monitor therapy
Anti-Parkinson Agents (Dopamine Agonist): Metoclopramide may diminish the therapeutic effect of Anti-Parkinson Agents (Dopamine Agonist). Monitor therapy
Antipsychotic Agents: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Antipsychotic Agents. Avoid combination
Atovaquone: Metoclopramide may decrease the serum concentration of Atovaquone. Management: Consider alternatives to metoclopramide when possible; atovaquone should only be used with metoclopramide if no other antiemetics are available. Consider therapy modification
CycloSPORINE (Systemic): Metoclopramide may increase the absorption of CycloSPORINE (Systemic). Monitor therapy
Dapsone (Topical): May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Methemoglobinemia Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Deutetrabenazine: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Metoclopramide. Specifically, the risk for akathisia, parkinsonism, or neuroleptic malignant syndrome may be increased. Monitor therapy
Droperidol: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Metoclopramide. Avoid combination
Levosulpiride: Benzamide Derivatives may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Levosulpiride. Monitor therapy
MetyroSINE: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Metoclopramide. Management: Seek alternatives to this combination when possible. Monitor patients receiving metoclopramide with metyrosine for development of extrapyramidal symptoms. Consider therapy modification
MiFEPRIStone: May enhance the QTc-prolonging effect of QTc-Prolonging Agents (Indeterminate Risk and Risk Modifying). Management: Though the drugs listed here have uncertain QT-prolonging effects, they all have some possible association with QT prolongation and should generally be avoided when possible. Consider therapy modification
Nitric Oxide: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Methemoglobinemia Associated Agents. Combinations of these agents may increase the likelihood of significant methemoglobinemia. Management: Monitor patients for signs of methemoglobinemia (e.g., hypoxia, cyanosis) when nitric oxide is used in combination with other agents associated with development of methemoglobinemia. Avoid lidocaine/prilocaine. Monitor therapy
Opioid Analgesics: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Gastrointestinal Agents (Prokinetic). Monitor therapy
Posaconazole: Metoclopramide may decrease the serum concentration of Posaconazole. Monitor therapy
Prilocaine: Methemoglobinemia Associated Agents may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Prilocaine. Combinations of these agents may increase the likelihood of significant methemoglobinemia. Management: Monitor patients for signs of methemoglobinemia (e.g., hypoxia, cyanosis) when prilocaine is used in combination with other agents associated with development of methemoglobinemia. Avoid lidocaine/prilocaine in infants receiving such agents. Monitor therapy
Promethazine: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Promethazine. Avoid combination
QTc-Prolonging Agents (Highest Risk): QTc-Prolonging Agents (Indeterminate Risk and Risk Modifying) may enhance the QTc-prolonging effect of QTc-Prolonging Agents (Highest Risk). Management: Avoid such combinations when possible. Use should be accompanied by close monitoring for evidence of QT prolongation or other alterations of cardiac rhythm. Consider therapy modification
QTc-Prolonging Agents (Moderate Risk): QTc-Prolonging Agents (Indeterminate Risk and Risk Modifying) may enhance the QTc-prolonging effect of QTc-Prolonging Agents (Moderate Risk). Monitor therapy
Quinagolide: Metoclopramide may diminish the therapeutic effect of Quinagolide. Monitor therapy
Rivastigmine: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Metoclopramide. Specifically, the risk of extrapyramidal adverse reactions may be increased with this combination. Avoid combination
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Management: Seek alternatives to this combination when possible. Monitor patients receiving metoclopramide with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for signs of extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and serotonin syndrome. Consider therapy modification
Serotonin Modulators: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Metoclopramide. This may be manifest as symptoms consistent with serotonin syndrome or neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Exceptions: Nicergoline. Monitor therapy
Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. Management: Seek alternatives to this combination when possible. Monitor patients receiving metoclopramide with serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors for signs of extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and serotonin syndrome. Consider therapy modification
Sodium Nitrite: Methemoglobinemia Associated Agents may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Sodium Nitrite. Combinations of these agents may increase the likelihood of significant methemoglobinemia. Monitor therapy
Tetrabenazine: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Tetrabenazine. Avoid combination
Tetracaine (Topical): May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Methemoglobinemia Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Thiopental: Metoclopramide may enhance the therapeutic effect of Thiopental. Management: Consider thiopental dose reduction when used concomitantly with metoclopramide. Monitor patient response to treatment closely if using this combination. Consider therapy modification
Tricyclic Antidepressants: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Tricyclic Antidepressants. Management: Seek alternatives to this combination when possible. Monitor patients receiving metoclopramide with tricyclic antidepressants for signs of extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and serotonin syndrome. Consider therapy modification
Trimetazidine: Metoclopramide may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Trimetazidine. Specifically, the risk of extrapyramidal symptoms may be enhanced. Avoid combination
Frequency not always defined.
Cardiovascular: Atrioventricular block, bradycardia, cardiac failure, flushing (following high IV doses), hypertension, hypotension, supraventricular tachycardia
Central nervous system: Drowsiness (~10% to 70%; dose related), dystonic reaction (<1% to 25%; dose and age related), lassitude (~10%), restlessness (~10%), fatigue (2% to 10%), headache (4% to 5%), dizziness (1% to 4%), somnolence (2% to 3%), akathisia, confusion, depression, drug-induced Parkinson's disease, hallucination (rare), insomnia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome (rare), seizure, suicidal ideation, tardive dyskinesia
Dermatologic: Skin rash, urticaria
Endocrine & metabolic: Amenorrhea, fluid retention, galactorrhea, gynecomastia, hyperprolactinemia, porphyria
Gastrointestinal: Nausea (4% to 6%), vomiting (1% to 2%), diarrhea
Genitourinary: Impotence, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence
Hematologic & oncologic: Agranulocytosis, leukopenia, methemoglobinemia, neutropenia, sulfhemoglobinemia
Hepatic: Hepatotoxicity (rare)
Hypersensitivity: Angioedema (rare), hypersensitivity reaction
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Laryngospasm (rare)
Ophthalmic: Visual disturbance
Respiratory: Bronchospasm, laryngeal edema (rare)
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• CNS depression: May cause CNS depression, which may impair physical or mental abilities; patients must be cautioned about performing tasks that require mental alertness (eg, operating machinery or driving).
• Depression: Depression has occurred (in patients with and without a history of depression); symptoms have included suicidal ideation and suicide; avoid use in patients with a history of depression.
• Extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS): May cause extrapyramidal symptoms, generally manifested as acute dystonic reactions within the initial 24 to 48 hours of use at the usual adult dose (30 to 40 mg/day). Risk of these reactions is increased at higher than recommended doses, and in patients <30 years of age. Symptoms may include involuntary limb movements, facial grimacing, torticollis, oculogyric crisis, rhythmic tongue protrusion, bulbar type speech, trismus, or dystonic reactions resembling tetanus. May also rarely present as stridor and dyspnea (may be due to laryngospasm). Dystonic symptoms may be managed with IM diphenhydramine or benztropine. Pseudoparkinsonism (eg, bradykinesia, tremor, cogwheel rigidity, mask-like facies) may also occur (usually within first 6 months of therapy but also after longer periods) and is generally reversible within 2 to 3 months following discontinuation. Motor restlessness (eg, anxiety, agitation, jitteriness, insomnia) may occur; if symptoms resolve, consider restarting at a lower dosage. Avoid metoclopramide in patients receiving other drugs that are likely to cause EPS (eg, antipsychotics).
• Hyperprolactinemia: Metoclopramide elevates prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinemia may suppress hypothalamic GnRH, resulting in reduced pituitary gonadotropin secretion. This, in turn, may inhibit reproductive function by impairing gonadal steroidogenesis. Galactorrhea, amenorrhea, gynecomastia, and impotence have been reported. Hyperprolactinemia may potentially stimulate prolactin-dependent breast cancer. However, some clinical studies and epidemiology studies have not shown an association between administration of dopamine D2 receptor antagonists and tumorigenesis in humans.
• Hypertension: May elevate blood pressure; avoid use in patients with hypertension (IV administration was shown to release catecholamines). There are reports of hypertensive crises in patients with undiagnosed pheochromocytoma; use is contraindicated in patients with pheochromocytoma or other catecholamine-releasing paragangliomas. Discontinue therapy in any patient with a rapid rise in blood pressure.
• Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: Use may be associated with neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS); may be fatal. Monitor for manifestations of NMS, which include hyperpyrexia, muscle rigidity, altered mental status, and autonomic instability (irregular pulse or blood pressure, tachycardia, diaphoresis, and cardiac arrhythmias); additional signs may include elevated creatine phosphokinase, myoglobinuria, and acute renal failure. Discontinue immediately if signs/symptoms of NMS appear and begin intensive symptomatic management and monitoring.
• Proarrhythmic effects: Metoclopramide has been known to cause sinus arrest (usually with rapid IV administration or higher doses) (Bentsen 2002; Malkoff 1995). The torsadogenic potential for metoclopramide is considered to be low (Claassen 2005). Based on case reports, however, metoclopramide may cause QT prolongation and torsades de pointes in certain individuals (eg, heart failure patients with renal impairment) (Siddique 2009). There is data in healthy male volunteers to show that metoclopramide actually shortens the QT interval while at the same time increasing QT variance (Ellidokuz 2003). No human data other than case reports, however, has demonstrated a consistent QT prolonging effect with metoclopramide nor is there any substantiated evidence to show a direct association with the development of torsades de pointes.
• Tardive dyskinesia: [US Boxed Warning]: May cause tardive dyskinesia, a serious movement disorder that is often irreversible with no known treatment; the risk of developing tardive dyskinesia increases with duration of treatment and total cumulative dose. Discontinue metoclopramide in patients who develop signs/symptoms of tardive dyskinesia; in some patients, symptoms may lessen or resolve after metoclopramide is stopped. Avoid treatment with metoclopramide for longer than 12 weeks because of the increased risk of developing tardive dyskinesia with longer-term use. Avoid metoclopramide in patients receiving other drugs that are likely to cause tardive dyskinesia (eg, antipsychotics). Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by disfiguring involuntary movements of the face, tongue, and sometimes of the trunk and/or extremities; movements may be choreoathetotic in appearance. Metoclopramide may mask underlying tardive disease by suppressing or partially suppressing tardive dyskinesia signs; the effect of this symptomatic suppression upon the long-term course of tardive dyskinesia is unknown. The risk of developing tardive dyskinesia is increased in the elderly, especially elderly women, and diabetics, although it is not possible to predict which patients will develop tardive dyskinesia. Discontinue metoclopramide immediately in patients who develop signs/symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. There is no known effective treatment for established cases of tardive dyskinesia, although in some patients, tardive dyskinesia may remit (partially or completely) within several weeks to months after metoclopramide is withdrawn.
• Cardiovascular disease: Use with caution in patients with heart failure and concomitant renal impairment; may be at risk for development of QT prolongation and torsades de pointes (Siddique 2009).
• Edematous conditions: Use with caution in patients who are at risk of fluid overload (HF, cirrhosis). Metoclopramide causes a transient increase in serum aldosterone and increases the risk for fluid retention and volume overload. Discontinue if adverse events or signs/symptoms appear.
• Hepatic impairment: Use caution in patients with moderate to severe hepatic impairment; risk of adverse reactions may be increased due to increased systemic exposure; dosage adjustment recommended.
• Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydrogen (NADH)-cytochrome b5 reductase deficiency: Patients with NADH-cytochrome b5 reductase deficiency are at increased risk of methemoglobinemia and/or sulfhemoglobinemia.
• Parkinson disease: Symptoms of Parkinson disease may be exacerbated; avoid use in patients with Parkinson disease and other patients being treated with antiparkinsonian drugs.
• Renal impairment: Use with caution in patients with moderate to severe renal impairment; risk of adverse reactions may be increased due to increased systemic exposure; dosage adjustment recommended.
• Surgical anastomosis/closure: Use with caution following surgical anastomosis/closure; promotility agents may theoretically increase pressure in suture lines.
Concurrent drug therapy issues:
• Drug-drug interactions: Potentially significant interactions may exist, requiring dose or frequency adjustment, additional monitoring, and/or selection of alternative therapy. Consult drug interactions database for more detailed information.
• CYP2D6 poor metabolizers: Elimination of metoclopramide may be slowed possibly increasing the risk of dystonic and other adverse reactions; dosage reduction recommended.
• Elderly: Risk of tardive dyskinesia may be increased in elderly, especially in elderly women.
• Pediatric: Not recommended for use (oral formulation) due to increased risk of tardive dyskinesia and other extrapyramidal symptoms as well as the risk of methemoglobinemia in neonates (neonates may have decreased levels of NADH-cytochrome b5 reductase, which increases the risk of methemoglobinemia).
Dosage form specific issues:
• Benzyl alcohol and derivatives: Some dosage forms may contain sodium benzoate/benzoic acid; benzoic acid (benzoate) is a metabolite of benzyl alcohol; large amounts of benzyl alcohol (≥99 mg/kg/day) have been associated with a potentially fatal toxicity (“gasping syndrome”) in neonates; the “gasping syndrome” consists of metabolic acidosis, respiratory distress, gasping respirations, CNS dysfunction (including convulsions, intracranial hemorrhage), hypotension, and cardiovascular collapse (AAP ["Inactive" 1997]; CDC 1982); some data suggest that benzoate displaces bilirubin from protein binding sites (Ahlfors 2001); avoid or use dosage forms containing benzyl alcohol derivative with caution in neonates. See manufacturer's labeling.
Signs of tardive dyskinesias, extrapyramidal symptoms; signs/symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome
Metoclopramide crosses the placenta and can be detected in cord blood and amniotic fluid (Arvela 1983; Bylsma-Howell 1983). Available studies do not report an increased risk of adverse pregnancy-related outcomes following maternal use. Extrapyramidal symptoms or methemoglobinemia may potentially occur in the neonate.
Metoclopramide is one of the agents that may be considered for adjunctive treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when symptoms persist following initial pharmacologic therapy. Oral or IM therapy may be given in patients who are not dehydrated; IV therapy should be used when dehydration is present (ACOG 189 2018). Metoclopramide may be used for prophylaxis of nausea and vomiting associated with cesarean delivery (ASA 2016; Smith 2011).
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Patient may experience diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, or loss of strength and energy. Have patient report immediately to prescriber signs of serotonin syndrome (dizziness, severe headache, agitation, hallucinations, tachycardia, abnormal heartbeat, flushing, tremors, sweating a lot, change in balance, severe nausea, or severe diarrhea), signs of tardive dyskinesia (unable to control body movements; tongue, face, mouth, or jaw sticking out; mouth puckering; or puffing cheeks), signs of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (fever, muscle cramps or stiffness, dizziness, severe headache, confusion, change in thinking, tachycardia, abnormal heartbeat, or sweating a lot), signs of depression (suicidal ideation, anxiety, emotional instability, or confusion), severe headache, severe dizziness, passing out, vision changes, tremors, difficulty moving, rigidity, enlarged breasts, nipple discharge, sexual dysfunction, menstrual changes, agitation, abnormal movements, twitching, change in balance, difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, panic attacks irritability, shortness of breath, excessive weight gain, or swelling of arms or legs (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for health care professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience, and judgment in diagnosing, treating, and advising patients.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: GI stimulants
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