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Generic Name

Metoclopramide may be given as a shot in the vein (intravenous, or IV) or in pill form.

How It Works

Metoclopramide increases the movements or contractions of the muscles in the stomach and intestines. This decreases the amount of time it takes for the stomach contents to move through the digestive tract. Metoclopramide can be used alone or with other medicine.1

Why It Is Used

Metoclopramide prevents and relieves nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It is also used to treat heartburn, loss of appetite, and a prolonged feeling of fullness after meals.

How Well It Works

Metoclopramide improves nausea and vomiting that is caused by chemotherapy or advanced cancer.2

Side Effects

Metoclopramide does not cause as many side effects as many other medicines used to prevent nausea and vomiting. Possible side effects include:

  • Sleepiness or confusion.
  • Twitching or muscle spasms.
  • Decreased blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Rapid or uncontrolled movements of lips and tongue.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Do not use metoclopramide if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, prostate disease, severe low blood pressure, or rapid, irregular heartbeats.

Because metoclopramide can cause sleepiness and confusion, do not operate motor vehicles or other machinery until you know how you react to this medicine.

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking metoclopramide.

Metoclopramide can interact with many other medicines. Check with your doctor before taking other medicines, such as antihistamines or cold medicines, sedatives, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, pain medicines, seizure medicines, or muscle relaxants.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Cancer Society (2005). Nausea and Vomiting: Treatment Guidelines for Patients With Cancer, version III, pp. 1–32. Jenkintown, PA: National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
  2. National Cancer Institute (2005). Nausea and Vomiting PDQ—Health Professional Version. Available online:


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised October 20, 2009

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.