Prolonged use of heartburn medicine caused facial tics, suit says

By Kelly Holleran | Feb 26, 2013

A man who suffered from persistent heartburn has filed suit against his doctor, alleging he now also suffers from facial tics because of medication he was prescribed.

Alan Johnson claims his doctor, defendant Mark D. Irwin, prescribed him metoclopramide to treat his gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition in which the contents of the stomach leak backwards into the esophagus.

A black box warning accompanies the metoclopramide that cautions physicians not to prescribe the medication for more than 12 weeks at a time. Prolonged use of the drug has been associated with dyskinesia, which is a condition marked by repetitive movements such as involuntary facial grimacing, tongue thrusting and tongue chewing, according to the complaint filed Jan. 23 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Despite the warning, Irwin prescribed the medication to Johnson for more than 108 weeks, the suit states. Johnson took metoclopramide, which is the generic version of Reglan, from Feb. 14, 2009, through March 29, 2011, the complaint says.

In turn, Johnson claims he developed facial tics.

In addition to Irwin, Johnson names Belleville Internal Medicine and American Multispecialty Group as defendants, saying Irwin worked for both companies.

In his complaint, Johnson is seeking actual damages of more than $50,000, plus costs, post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Jeffrey J. Lowe and Jacob A. Flint of Carey, Danis and Lowe in St. Louis will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-44.


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