California Patients Learn Darvocet, Darvon Potentially Fatal

California pain patients may be using prescription painkillers like Darvon or Darvocet, but they are now being pulled from the market, and doctors are being asked to stop their prescription because of potential Darvocet fatalities.

The reason is that the main ingredient, propoxyphene, can alter the electrical current that the heart uses to pump blood, causing arrhythmia. Still, as US News and World Report notes, it may not be the best idea to immediately stop taking it, in spite of the danger:

Patients taking the drugs should speak with their doctors immediately, and shouldn’t make the decision to stop on their own, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends. Any generic drugs containing propoxyphene must also be yanked off shelves. Friday’s news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, though.

Regulatory agencies in Britain and the European Union banned the ingredient more than a year ago, the Times reports. And in 2009, an FDA advisory panel voted 14-12 to pull the drug, but the FDA rejected the proposal, instead calling for a study of the drug’s potential heart-related side effects.

That study showed that, even in healthy patients, the drug increased the risk for potentially fatal heart arrhythmias.

What many people don’t realize is that concerns about Darvocet, which has been on the market for decades, are not new by any stretch. Fox 23 outlines the ongoing issues:

Back in 1978, the FDA received two requests to remove Propoxyphene from the market but, at the time, concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks.

Now, officials decided to take action based on a recent study showing the drug interferes with the electrical activity of the heart.

“I had a brief experience with it (Darvocet) before several years ago, 30 to 35 years ago…It was a very unpleasant experience for me…So I immediately got off of it,” Doreen Wheland, Colonie, said. Mary Murray, of Cohoes, said she had some side effect while taking Darvon for pain.

“I guess I was hallucinating, I was acting really weird,” Murray said.

If you’ve suffered because of a defective product like Darvocet, you may be able to find a legal remedy with a qualified personal injury attorney who can help you understand the benefits and problems with such an approach.

[Image: Amayzun via Flickr]