Darvon & Darvocet (propoxyphene) Investigation

Stueve Siegel Hanson is investigating Darvon and Darvocet related to side effects including potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormalities. Darvon is a brand name for the drug propoxyphene. Made and sold by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc., this prescription medication is used to treat mild to moderate pain. Made and sold by Eli Lilly and Company, Darvocet contains the pain reliever/fever reducer acetaminophen as well as propoxyphene.

Eli Lilly and Company developed propoxyphene and gained FDA approval to market the drug under the name Darvon in 1957. At the time, the product was hailed as a breakthrough because it was a happy medium between aspirin, which was relatively weak, and narcotics such as morphine and codeine, which were dangerous to some patients and very addictive. The FDA approved Darvocet in 1972.

Propoxyphene is a synthetic opioid painkiller. Natural opiates are derived from the opium poppy plant; synthetic versions contain a similar chemical structure that is created in a laboratory. Opiates reduce pain by attaching to receptors in the central nervous system, blocking pain messages to the brain and inducing a relaxed, euphoric state. Propoxyphene is a narcotic pain reliever (that is, one that induces drowsiness). Users build up a tolerance to its effects and over time need a stronger dose to achieve the same effect. Still, it is less potent than other narcotics (such as morphine, OxyContin, and Percocet), making it less susceptible to abuse, and can be taken by those who have allergies to more powerful narcotics.

Although products containing propoxyphene are among the oldest and most widely-used prescription painkillers in the United States, Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. (the current maker of Darvon and Darvocet) complied with a request by the FDA and on November 19, 2010 withdrew all versions of the two products from the market due to the potentially fatal risk of arrhythmia (heart rhythm abnormalities) associated with propoxyphene.

Study Links Darvon, Darvocet to Heart Problems, Death by Overdose and Suicide

The FDA's ordered withdrawal of the product was due to study results that highlighted a link between Darvon side effects and abnormal heart rhythms. On the results, Dr. Gerald Dal Pan, the FDA's director of surveillance and epidemiology commented in a statement that for the first time [the FDA] now have data showing that the standard therapeutic dose of propoxyphene can be harmful to the heart. In some cases, this condition has been fatal. This has led many members of the public to file a Darvon lawsuit over injuries and wrongful death of family members as a result of the heart problems associated with the drugs. Severe Darvon and Darvocet side effects implicated in the lawsuits include:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Bradycardia
  • Tachycardia
  • Cardiac/respiratory arrest

Propoxyphene has also been linked with accidental fatal overdoses, and suicide. The FDA recall came six years after the UK banned propoxyphene, and nearly a year and a half after the European drug agency's own recall. Public Citizen's Health Research Group says that at least 1,000 to 2,000 Americans have died in the time since the UK ban was announced, chastising the US Food and Drug Administration for its extremely slow pace in this matter.

Darvon, Darvocet and other propoxyphene-based drugs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. Since 2005, about 120 million prescriptions for propoxyphene-based medication were filled in the United States alone. Propoxyphene is sold under various names as a single-ingredient product, like Darvon, and as part of a combination product with acetaminophen, like Darvocet. Propoxyphene is also marketed under such names as Dolene, Propacet 100, Wygesic, SK-65, SK-65 APAP, Trycet, Genagesic, E-Lor, and Balacet.

Consumers must be protected from dangerous drugs such as Darvon or Darvocet.  That is why America’s product liability laws allow injured victims the ability to file Darvon lawsuits and Darvocet lawsuits.  These laws allow an individual injured by the dangerous drug Darvon or Darvocet to seek compensation from the party responsible, such as the manufacturer like Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals have been advised to stop prescribing Darvon, Darvocet, and generic propoxyphene-containing products. Patients taking any of these medications should speak with their doctors about possibly changing their pain management therapy to avoid experiencing the serious cardiac side effects of Darvocet and Darvon.

If you have experienced serious side effects outlined above caused by Darvon, Darvocet and other propoxyphene medications and wish to receive additional information about your legal options, please call 1-888-756-6494 or fill out the form on this page.

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