Many have asked questions about why a medication that has been around for over 35 years was voluntarily pulled from the market November 19, 2010.
Darvocet (propoxyphene and acetaminophen), is an opioid pain reliever used to treat mild to moderate pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that propoxyphene be withdrawn from the U.S. Market after receiving new clinical data showing that the drug puts patients at risk of potentially serious or even fatal heart abnormalities. These risks were present even at therapeutic doses which led the FDA to believe the risks outweigh the benefits. With a number of good alternatives on the market that do not possess the same potential for heart abnormalities, the drugs were pulled from the market.
Propoxyphene, as with other narcotic (opiate) analgesics, blocks pain perception in the cerebral cortex by binding to specific receptor molecules (opiate receptors). This binding inhibits the flow of pain sensations into the higher centers. Unfortunately, propoxyphene has also been shown to cause significant changes to the electrical activity of the heart which can increase the risk for serious abnormal heart rhythms.
Alternative pain management strategies other than propoxyphene need to be discussed with your physician. Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab), Ultram, and Tylenol with codeine (Tylenol #3) remain good options.
Darvocet and Darvon have been around forever but this decision makes sense for two reasons: the new evidence of the potential for electrical abnormalities in the heart, and the fact that there are many better, safer options for pain control.