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Patients May Have Missed Darvocet/Darvon Recall, Group Warns

Decades of evidence that the narcotic painkiller propoxyphene caused irregular heartbeats in users that were so severe some people taking the medication died suddenly from heart attacks prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ask drug makers to pull their propoxyphene products from the market in November 2010.

The leading manufacturer of the drug, Xanodyne, which marketed a propoxyphene-only tablet under the name Darvon and a combination propoxyphene-acetaminophen tablet branded Darvocet, complied immediately. Makers of generic versions of the medication also withdrew their products.

Months after the U.S. recall, and more than a year after a similar market withdrawal of propoxyphene in Europe, however, thousands of people may still be taking the dangerous drug. Consumer protection organization US Drug Watchdog recently issued an alert that many patients prescribed Darvon, Darvocet or one of their generic equivalents before the recalls may have missed the announcement that federal regulators and drug makers no longer consider the propoxyphene's benefits to outweigh their risks.

Among the problems propoxyphene users may experience, especially patients with preexisting heart problems or heart pacemakers, are

  • Addiction
  • Arrhythmia (i.e., rapid or abnormally slow heartbeat)
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Convulsions
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Overdose
  • Toxicity (i.e., poisoning)

If you or a family members still has Darvocet, Darvon or propoxyphene tablets in your medicine cabinet, stop taking them and contact your doctor and pharmacist. You need to work with your health care providers to find a safe way to dispose of the recalled drugs and identify a substitute medication that can relieve your pain without putting you at undue risk for potentially fatal side effects.

All medications can produce some adverse effects, but no patient should ever take a drug that can cause more problems than it relieves.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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