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Zofran vs Reglan

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Zofran Details

Reglan Details

Comparative Analysis

Zofran Prescription Information

Reglan Prescription Information

Zofran Side Effects

Reglan Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Analysis

Market Analysis



For patients suffering from nausea and vomiting, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy or postoperative recovery, certain drugs that alter the activities of neurotransmitters in the brain can help manage these symptoms. Zofran and Reglan are two such medications often prescribed for this purpose. Both influence different neurotransmitter pathways but have significant effects on reducing nausea and vomiting. Zofran, generically known as Ondansetron, works by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain and gut, thereby curbing queasiness and emesis (vomiting). On the other hand, Reglan (Metoclopramide) acts primarily as a dopamine antagonist along with some influence on serotonin receptors which speeds up gastric emptying - an effect that helps mitigate feelings of sickness.

Zofran vs Reglan Side By Side

Brand NameZofranReglan
ContraindicationsKnown hypersensitivity to Zofran or its ingredients, allergic reaction to similar medicines such as dolasetron mesylate (Anzemet), granisetron hydrochloride (Kytril), palonosetron hydrochloride (Aloxi).Gastrointestinal bleeding, obstruction or perforation, diagnosed with epilepsy.
CostFor brand name: around $850 for 30 tablets of 4 mg. Generic: $0.20 to over $1 per day depending on dosage.For brand name: about $70 for 60 tablets of 10 mg. Generic: between $.10 cents and $.50 cents per day depending on quantity and dosage.
Generic NameOndansetronMetoclopramide
Most Serious Side EffectSerotonin Syndrome, allergic reactions, unusual changes in mood or behavior, vision problems, cardiovascular issues.Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, depression including thoughts about suicide.
Severe Drug InteractionsAntipsychotics (e.g., haloperidol), certain antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), antidepressants (e.g., fluoxetine).Not specifically listed, but caution is advised with medications that may interact with dopamine or serotonin pathways.
Typical DoseOral dosages for adults range from 8–32 mg/day, taken in divided doses. A single dose of 24 mg one hour before chemotherapy for most people.Begins at a dosage of 10 mg taken four times daily, usually half an hour before meals and at bedtime, not to exceed 40 mg per day.

What is Zofran?

Ondansetron (the generic name for Zofran) was a significant advancement in the 5-HT3 receptor antagonist class of antiemetic drugs, which came as a major development after the first generation of anti-emetics known as dopamine antagonists. Ondansetron was first approved by the FDA in 1991. Zofran works by blocking serotonin, a natural substance that can cause vomiting and nausea, from triggering the vomiting center in the brain. It is typically prescribed to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy or surgery. Zofran has an exclusive effect on serotonin receptors with only minor influence on dopamine receptors, resulting in it having fewer side effects than other antiemetics that have stronger effects on these latter neurotransmitters.

What conditions is Zofran approved to treat?

Zofran is approved for the treatment of different conditions related to nausea and vomiting:

  • Prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy (chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, or CINV)
  • Postoperative nausea and/or vomiting
  • Nausea and vomiting associated with radiation therapy (radiation-induced nausea and vomiting, or RINV)

How does Zofran help with these illnesses?

Zofran (ondansetron) helps to manage nausea and vomiting by blocking the action of serotonin in the gut and the brain. It does this by acting on a subtype of serotonin receptors, known as 5-HT3 receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that, amongst other things, plays an important role in triggering nausea and vomiting reflexes when its levels are high. These reflexes can be triggered during certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which increase the production of serotonin in your body. Therefore, Zofran can limit these negative effects by reducing the activity of serotonin at these specific receptors, thereby helping patients manage their condition and stabilize their comfort level.

What is Reglan?

Reglan is a brand name for metoclopramide, which is a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist. This means it works by blocking the action of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects mood and motivation. Metoclopramide was first approved by the FDA in 1980, and while its primary use is as an antiemetic to treat nausea and vomiting, it also has prokinetic properties due to its interaction with serotonin receptors in the gut. It's these actions on both dopamine and serotonin receptors that give Reglan its unique therapeutic profile compared to other antiemetics such as Zofran (ondansetron). Unlike Zofran which solely targets serotonin receptors, Reglan's dual action can provide more comprehensive relief from digestive discomfort but may also lead to different side effects such as drowsiness or restlessness. Its effects on dopamine can be beneficial especially for patients who do not respond well to "typical" serotonin-blocking drugs like Zofran.

What conditions is Reglan approved to treat?

Reglan, a medication known for its effectiveness in treating certain digestive disorders, has been approved by the FDA for:

  • Treatment of heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Relief of symptoms associated with slow stomach emptying in people with diabetes. This condition is also called diabetic gastroparesis.

How does Reglan help with these illnesses?

Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that plays several important roles in the body, affecting things like mood, muscle movement and even digestive function. In the realm of gastrointestinal health, Reglan works by increasing the levels of dopamine available in your gut, thereby improving digestion and reducing symptoms such as nausea or vomiting. Its action on acetylcholine may also play a role in speeding up stomach emptying time which can be beneficial for patients suffering from gastroparesis or other similar conditions. Because it directly influences dopamine levels rather than serotonin (the primary target of Zofran), it is often seen as an alternative choice when patients do not respond well to typical antiemetic medications such as Zofran, or it might be combined with them for more effective results.

How effective are both Zofran and Reglan?

Both ondansetron (Zofran) and metoclopramide (Reglan) have long-standing records of effectiveness in treating nausea and vomiting, with both medications having been approved by the FDA over 30 years ago. Given that they work via different mechanisms, these drugs may be prescribed based on the specific patient's needs or symptoms. Ondansetron was directly compared to metoclopramide in a double-blind clinical trial conducted in 1991 for postoperative nausea; both drugs showed similar efficacy rates in managing emesis as well as comparable safety profiles.

A review published in 2004 demonstrated that Zofran is effective at reducing postoperative nausea from the onset of treatment and its side effects were generally tolerable compared to many other antiemetic agents. This report also revealed that Zofran has become one of the most commonly used antiemetics worldwide due to its impressive efficacy rate.

In contrast, a 2016 meta-analysis suggested that Reglan appears more effective than placebo for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, showing comparative efficiency levels against other popular antiemetics. However, Reglan is often considered a second-line option after other treatments such as serotonin antagonists like Zofran due to potential serious neurological side effects associated with longer-term use or higher dosages. Data confirming its efficacy when used alone are less robust than those for Zofran given it's frequently co-prescribed alongside another antiemetic drug during intense chemotherapy sessions where patients are at high risk for severe emesis.

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At what dose is Zofran typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Zofran for adults can range from 8–32 mg/day, taken in divided doses. However, studies have indicated that a single dose of 24 mg administered one hour before chemotherapy is suitable for preventing nausea and vomiting due to cancer treatment in most people. Children aged four years or older may be started on a dosage of 4-12 mg/day depending on body surface area and the intensity of the therapy. In either population, dosage can be adjusted based on individual response and tolerance. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 32 mg.

At what dose is Reglan typically prescribed?

Reglan treatment typically begins at a dosage of 10 mg taken four times daily, usually half an hour before meals and at bedtime. Depending on the individual's response to treatment, this dose may be increased but should not exceed 40 mg per day in most cases. If there is no significant improvement or if side effects become bothersome, your doctor may adjust the regimen accordingly. This medication is generally short-term and should not be used for longer than 12 weeks due to risk of tardive dyskinesia (a serious movement disorder). As always, it's critical that Reglan dosing instructions are followed as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

What are the most common side effects for Zofran?

Common side effects of Zofran can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue (general weakness)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness, light-headedness
  • Temporary vision changes (blurred vision or temporary loss of vision)
  • Rash

On the other hand, Reglan may cause side effects such as:

  • Restlessness, drowsiness
  • Insomnia, anxiety and agitation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea -Dry mouth -Uncontrollable movements or muscle contractions which could become permanent
    -Decreased libido.

Both drugs have their own set of potential side effects that should be considered before starting treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider to select the best medication for your specific needs.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Zofran?

In very rare instances, Zofran may cause potentially serious side effects which can include:

  • Serotonin Syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking
  • Allergic reactions: rash; hives; itching; redness of the skin; difficulty in breathing or swallowing; swelling of the hands/feet/lips/tongue/throat
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior: thoughts about self-harm or suicide
  • Vision problems: blurred vision, tunnel visions and temporary loss of vision
  • Cardiovascular issues like light-headed feeling (as if you might pass out), shortness of breath with mild exertion; irregular heartbeats,

Reglan has its own set of potential side effects such as:

  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome – characterized by high fever, stiff muscles and confusion.
  • Tardive dyskinesia – involuntary movements mainly around the mouth. This condition may be permanent.
  • Depression including thoughts about suicide.

Always contact a health professional if you experience these symptoms while using either drug.

What are the most common side effects for Reglan?

When taking Reglan, some possible side effects you might experience could include:

  • Dry mouth or stuffy nose
  • Feeling restless, anxious, or agitated
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia or unusual dreams
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn due to increased stomach acid production
    Furthermore, in rare cases it can cause a fast heartbeat. Remember that this is not an exhaustive list and if any of these symptoms persist for longer than anticipated or become severe you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. It's important to note that everyone reacts differently to medication so what one person experiences may be different from another.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Reglan?

While Reglan is often used effectively for nausea and gastroparesis, it's important to be aware of its potential side effects which include:

  • Signs of allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement), blinking or shaking in your arms or legs
  • A seizure (convulsions)
  • Feeling restless or unusually excited
  • Depression with thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself
  • Hallucinations (seeing things that are not there)
  • Fluid retention causing swellings on hands/ankles/feet
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

If any of these symptoms occur after taking Reglan stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Contraindications for Zofran and Reglan?

Both Zofran and Reglan, like most antiemetic medications, may cause some side effects. If you notice any unusual or severe reactions such as muscle spasms, uncontrollable movements, changes in heartbeat or mood swings after taking these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Zofran nor Reglan should be taken if you are already on certain other medications that can interfere with how these drugs work. These include but are not limited to antipsychotics (such as haloperidol), certain antibiotics (like erythromycin) or antidepressants (for example fluoxetine). Always tell your physician which medications you are currently using; these will require a period of time for clearance from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with both Zofran and Reglan.

Zofran is specifically contraindicated in individuals with known hypersensitivity to it or any of its ingredients and those who have had an allergic reaction to similar medicines such as dolasetron mesylate (Anzemet®), granisetron hydrochloride (Kytril®), palonosetron hydrochloride (Aloxi®).

Reglan should also not be used by patients who suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, obstruction or perforation. It's also contraindicated in people diagnosed with epilepsy due to increased risk of seizures.

How much do Zofran and Reglan cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Zofran (4 mg) averages around $850, which works out to approximately $28–56/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price of 60 tablets of Reglan (10 mg) is about $70, working out to roughly $1.2/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Zofran (i.e., 24 mg/day), then brand-name Reglan is significantly less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For generic versions of Zofran (ondansetron) and Reglan (metoclopramide), costs are significantly lower:

  • Ondansetron can be bought in quantities ranging from 12 to 180 tablets with doses from 4mg to 8mg. Costs range between approximately $0.20 and up to more than a dollar per day for high dosages.
  • Metoclopramide comes in packs starting at quantities as low as ten up until hundreds with doses usually being either 5 or ten milligrams each tablet. Costing anywhere between just under $.10 cents and upwards towards $.50 cents per day depending on quantity purchased upfront plus dosage used daily.

Popularity of Zofran and Reglan

Ondansetron, in generic form as well as brand names such as Zofran, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 6 million people in the US in 2020. Ondansetron accounted for just over 15% of prescriptions for antiemetic drugs (drugs that prevent nausea and vomiting) in the US. This drug is most commonly used postoperatively or during chemotherapy treatment to alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Metoclopramide, including brand versions such as Reglan, was prescribed to approximately 2 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, metoclopramide accounts for around 10% of all antiemetic prescriptions. Metoclopramide is an older medication when compared with ondansetron and has a broader range of uses including symptomatic management of gastroparesis (slowing down of gut movement). However, its use has somewhat declined due to concerns regarding side effects especially neurological one like tardive dyskinesia (a disorder that involves involuntary movements).


Zofran (ondansetron) and Reglan (metoclopramide) are both well-established treatments for nausea and vomiting. Their effectiveness is supported by numerous clinical studies, showing they provide more relief than placebo treatments. Due to their different mechanisms of action, with Zofran primarily blocking serotonin receptors in the brain's chemoreceptor trigger zone and Reglan primarily increasing muscle contractions in the upper digestive tract, they can be prescribed under varying circumstances.

Zofran is often a first-line treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting or postoperative nausea while Reglan might be used when symptoms are associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease or delayed stomach emptying.

Both Zofran and Reglan have generic versions available which can significantly lower costs for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. An adjustment period may also apply as effects may not be immediately noticeable.

The side effect profile is somewhat similar between the two drugs; although generally well-tolerated, Zofran tends to have fewer severe side effects compared to Reglan which has been linked to serious movement disorders with long-term use. Regardless of the medication chosen, it’s important that patients closely monitor any adverse reactions when starting treatment and seek medical help immediately if severe side effects occur.