The assignment of who will preside over approximately 1,000 Reglan lawsuits has been announced: Judge Carol E. Higbee of the New Jersey Superior Court will be overseeing those cases. Higbee will preside over the majority of the Reglan cases that have been consolidated to the New Jersey court system.
While Judge Higbee is based in Atlantic City, N.J., she brings to the table a great deal of experience with mass Reglan lawsuits. The Reglan cases have been being filed for nearly two decades because of the drug’s link to serious side effects, including tardive dyskinesia. That is not the type of side effect that you would think of getting from a gastrointestinal drug, especially since there are milder treatments on the market that are nearly symptom-free.
Reglan was one of the most widely-prescribed medications to treat patient gastrointestinal problems including GERD before the side effects began to take precedence over the benefits of the drug. However, it may not be all the doctors’ faults for prescribing it since most of the lawsuits are aimed at the makers of Reglan, Wyeth, for not properly giving warning about the risks.
Reglan (metoclopramide) was first given to the American public in 1982; it wasn’t until 2009 that the FDA finally forced Wyeth to include proper warnings about the side effects like tardive dyskinesia on the label. Since it took the FDA so long, it is fair to say that the agency at least partially responsible; however, manufacturers and distributors of Reglan are the only parties being held liable in courtrooms.
At this point, Judge Higbee is only overseeing the earliest stages of pretrial coordination and discovery. It isn’t expected that the first lawsuit will reach the courtroom until later on in the year. It will happen in a New Jersey Court.