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Shapiro & Appleton

Darvon/Darvocet Deaths Prompt Lawsuits From Families

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Makers of the narcotic painkiller Darvon, Darvocet and generic tablets containing the opioid drug propoxyphene agreed to pull their prescription products from U.S. pharmacy shelves in November 2010. The total recall of all  forms of the medication, including tablets that contained a combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol from McNeil Consumer Healthcare), came after a study requested by the federal Food and Drug Administration showed that the risks of taking Darvon, Darvocet or generic versions of those medications far outweighed any benefits patients could receive.

Researchers found that propoxyphene, even when taken at prescribed doses for brief periods, had caused hundreds of deaths from cardiac arrest, heart failure and other problems each year since Eli Lilly first marketed the drug in 1957. Other serious side effects produced by the painkiller included respiratory arrest, fluid in the lungs, convulsions and addiction.

At the time of last year's  recall, Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals owned the brands Darvon and Darvocet. The company now faces at least nine wrongful death lawsuits from family members of patients who died while taking the products. An especially tragic case involves the death of a 22-year-old Ohio (OH) woman who began using Darvocet after tearing ligaments in her knee while caring for children in an orphanage.

Several plaintiffs' lawyers in the civil suits filed against Xanodyne have also named Eli Lilly as a defendant and are seeking class action status for their claims. Considering the thousands of patients who lost their lives because they used the dangerous drug, reaching a settlement or winning a verdict that could provide some justice to all those propoxyphene victims' survivors makes sense.

For now, the most important thing is that if you still have branded or generic propoxyphene tablets in your medicine cabinet, stop taking the medication. Contact you doctor and pharmacist to get advice on how to dispose of the drugs safely and work with them to find a safer medication to treat your pain.

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