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Darvon and Darvocet Linked to Heart Problems, Overdose

The prescription drugs Darvon and Darvocet have been pulled from the market after the active ingredient, propoxyphene, was linked to heart problems including heart arrhythmia, heart attacks, and sudden death. While both Darvocet and Darvon contain propoxyphene, Darvocet is a combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen. According to the U.S. Drug Watchdog, a national consumer advocacy group, these drugs are some of the most prescribed drugs in U.S. history with over 22 million prescriptions issued since its introduction in 1957. Because these drugs have been on the market for so long, many patients with prescriptions for Darvon, Darvocet, or propoxyphene may not have heard of the recall and still have these drugs on their shelves. Despite the drugs popularity, the painkillers were pulled from the market in November, 2010 due to the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) recommendation. The FDA stated that Darvon and Darvocet “puts patients at risk of potentially serious or even fatal heart rhythm abnormalities.” Producers of generic drug forms containing propoxyphene have also been told to halt production. Additionally, the drug was associated with dosing problems according to the New York Times. Concerns about drug overdose caused the drug to be pulled in Europe as early as 2005. The FDA had previously given the drugs a black box warning about the risk of fatal overdose in 2009. The FDAs decision to not ban the drug was met with harsh criticism in 2009. Even a proper dosage of propoxyphene is still associated with heart risks. Given these drugs checkered history, it raises the question of why these drugs werent taken off the market sooner in the interest of public safety.