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Slow Action on Darvon and Darvocet Leads to More Deaths

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Darvon and Darvocet have been commonly prescribed painkillers for many years. A combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen, many doctors recommended the medications to patients who needed pain relief while still being able to function properly in their daily lives. Acetaminophen is also the active ingredient in Tylenol pain reliever, but is only present in the Darvocet version of these medications. Darvon only contains propoxyphene.

The History of Darvocet and Darvon

Originally marketed in the late 1950s, doctors have written prescriptions for more than 20 million people over the years. During that time, they believed the drug was an effective substitute for addictive narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone. However, the call to take these medications off the market has been underway for some time. Consumer protection agencies have known about the potential hazards since the 1970s.[1]

Less Effective and More Dangerous than Claimed

Unfortunately, these pain relievers are not as effective as the manufacturer, Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, claimed. At the same time, the drug can cause fatal heart rate and fibrillation problems for vulnerable patients. Any individual with a congenital cardiovascular problem or borderline high blood pressure could be at risk. These problems often go diagnosed because the symptoms are slight.

Hidden Dangers for Many Patients

Individuals with coronary problems commonly fail to realize the true source of their discomforts. Symptoms of heart trouble can manifest differently. A congestive heart condition begins well before the patient notices shortness of breath. An irregular heartbeat naturally begins intermittently. The problem is not diagnosed until it becomes chronic.

Patients with unnoticed problems are at a particularly high risk of injury from these drugs. They are not aware of their hearts’ physical limitations. They can easily over exert themselves and suffer serious consequences, especially when a medication containing propoxyphene increases their heart rates.

FDA Slow to Act

Although the FDA recognized the danger, the agency considered the number of deaths small, given the number of patients taking the drug. Unfortunately, time has shown that patients taking the drug for extended periods can experience late onset of chronic symptoms. In addition, new investigations show that many deaths may be been caused by the drug, but were never identified as such because the FDA chose not to investigate.

The FDA finally acknowledged the problem in February 2009[2] when the benefit-to-risk ratio met official standards to trigger an investigation. In July 2009, the FDA required the company place a conspicuous “black box” warning, similar to those posted on cigarette packages, on all containers for the product. Finally, in November 2010, the FDA instituted a procedural recall of the medication. Since then, autopsies have identified over 1000 deaths caused by the drugs.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love may have suffered injury because of one of these medications or another dangerous drug, contact our office. Our experienced attorneys will help you decide if you should file suit against the maker of the drug to compensate for your injuries.


[1] http://usdrugwatchdog.com/pressrelease.htm
[2] http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm233800.htm

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