Group Requests Ban On Darvon And Other Propoxyphene Based Drugs released an article on February 28, 2006 entitled “Group petitions FDA to ban pain drug.”  In the petition, the group claims that Darvon and related painkillers containing the ingredient propoxyphene are linked to over 2,110 deaths between 1981 and 1999.  Already the United Kingdom has instituted a phase-out of the drug and will eventually ban the drug.

To understand why Darvocet and related painkillers can be dangerous we must look to its main active ingredient, propoxyphene.  Propoxyphene is used to relieve mild to moderate pain.  It is prescribed in two forms: 1) propoxyphene hydrochloride and 2) propoxyphene napsylate.  It is important to note that the latter version or the N-form of propoxyphene is absorbed by the body at a slower rate and has a longer duration of action, then the first or H-form of propoxyphene.  Propoxyphene can be found in:

  • Darvon and Darvon-N (propoxyphene only)
  • Darvon with A.S.A., Darvon-N with A.S.A. (with aspirin)
  • Darvocet, Darvocet-N, Wygesic (acetaminophen)
  • Darvon Compound, Darvon Compound-65 (with aspirin and caffeine)

So why is propoxyphene so dangerous? 

Dr. Sidney Wolfe the director of the petitioning groups says the “main active ingredient in the drugs, propoxyphene, is a relatively weak painkiller and poses an unacceptable toxic risk to the millions of patients prescribed it each year.”  While Dr. Carolyn Sachs of the University of California, Los Angeles stated, “Propoxyphene provides minimal if any additional analgesia to acetaminophen alone and is associated with significant adverse effects, it cannot be recommended for routine use,” in her American Family Physician article on March 2005.  The MSNBC article states, “The body transforms propoxyphene into norpropoxyphene, which can build up in the body and is associated with a variety of heart problems, including arrhythmia.” 

Research is still being conducted to pinpoint exactly why people are dying from propoxyphene.  However, in an article authored by Jim Parker from the Do It Now Foundation, an alternative theory as to why some people die when using painkillers containing propoxyphene is presented.  The Do It Now Foundation is an organization devoted to creating and disseminating accurate, creative, and realistic information on drugs, alcohol, sexuality, and other behavioral health topics.  This organization is affiliated with the American College Health Association, the American Public Health, the national Library of Medicine and other associations concerned with public health.

In Mr. Parker’s article he attributes the problem to the drug’s ineffectiveness.  He claims that the drug is often prescribed for pain relief.  Yet the drug can be slow in its effectiveness.  Therefore people often take a double-dose to quicken their pain relief.  This double dose can be a lethal dose because the gap between a therapeutic does and an overdose is small.  For example four times the standard dose of the drug can trigger slowing of breathing and heart rate.  While six times the therapeutic dose can cause seizures and symptoms of psychosis.  Mr. Parker also attributes a large portion of fault to people mixing propoxyphene with alcohol or other depressants.  

Before taking Darvocet or other medication containing propoxyphene you may want to take special precautions.  Please see link under Related Resources at the bottom of the page.

The major developers, manufacturers and distributors of Darvon and Darvocet are Eli Lilly and Co., aaiPharma Inc. of Wilmington, N.C., Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Newport, K.Y., Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt.

If you or a family member has suffered heart problems or other injuries resulting from the use of Darvon, Darvocet or other medications containing propoxyphene you may have a legal claim.  Our office would like to be of assistance. We have years of experiences in the area of representing those who have been injured by the negligent conduct of others.  Please click here to be forwarded to our Consultation page. 

Please remember to give us as much detail as possible with regard to your usage of the medication and your injuries.