Propoxyphene, an opioid pain reliever, has been withdrawn by the FDA from the US market because of its potential harmful effects on the cardiovascular system.
What is Propoxyphene?
Propoxyphene is an opioid or narcotic pain reliever prescribed for mild to moderate pain since it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1957. It is currently marketed as Darvon and Darvocet by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, but there are also other brands and generic preparations existing. It is marketed alone or in combination with acetaminophen. An estimated 10 million people are currently taking the drug.
Why is Propoxyphene Being Withdrawn?
In 2009, warnings were issued regarding the potential harmful effects of propoxyphene to the cardiovascular system. Reports of fatal heart rhythm abnormalities or arrhythmias have been discovered, and the drug was first withdrawn from European markets. These arrhythmias or electrical changes in the heart are evidenced by ECG changes, and can be exaggerated or reinforced by the intake of other drugs and kidney disease, check over here.
Although the drug is popularly used as an effective pain reliever, it has been determined that its harmful effects outweigh its benefits even if used in its usual therapeutic doses, hence the decision for withdrawal. Physicians are advised to stop prescribing the drug, but for patients currently taking it, abrupt withdrawal is not recommended. Even patients who have been using propoxyphene for a long time may experience these changes anytime; hence physicians are warned to shift these patients to other medications.
On their part, patients are advised to dispose of their existing supply of these medications properly by taking them out of their original containers and mixing them with undesirable substances not likely to be ingested, such as coffee grounds. They should be put in sealable bags that are not likely to be taken out of the garbage.
Patients are also warned to report any adverse effects that have occurred since intake of propoxyphene. However, these patients are also informed that any harmful effects are not cumulative, and when drug intake is stopped, these effects are expected to subside.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.