What Is The Connection Between Darvocet and Sudden Cardiac Death?

by admin on March 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Darvon and Darvocet, along with its generic forms, are made from the opiate derived narcotic propoxyphene and are used to treat mild to moderate pain.  Many of the generic versions of the drug have the name propoxyphene as part of its name.    In the year 2009 an estimated ten million Americans took this drug making it the 38th most prescribed generic drug.  At one point the drug was the most commonly prescribed pain reliever in the United States being marketed as a non-addictive alternative to other habit forming opiates.  Interestingly, as far back as 1972 the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, was forced to acknowledge that the drug was no more effective than 650 mg of aspirin (two standard tablets).   In November of last year the FDA urged that the manufacturers discontinue the production of the drug as a result of fatal cardiac toxicity and the drug was pulled from the market.

Despite Eli Lilly’s claims, it was discovered that the drug was in fact highly addictive.  In 1976 as a result of the addictive nature of the drug, the FDA labeled Darvon and its like generics as a controlled substance.  By 1980 there were almost 600 related Darvon related deaths reported in the U.S.  The frequency of overdose was a result of the narrow range between a therapeutic dose and a fatal dose.  This margin can be as little as four times the standard dose and triggers a dangerous slowing of breath and heart rate.  This resulted in the first petition for the drug to be pulled from the market in 1989.  In 2005 the drug was banned from the United Kingdom which followed with a ban in the European Union in 2009.  Between the ban in the UK and its being pulled from the United States market there were over 120 million prescriptions filled which resulted in approximately 2000 reported deaths.

Darvocet, which is a combination of the opiate propoxyphene with acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol), caffeine and/or aspirin grew to treat a wide variety of patients and situations including fractures, major surgery, dental surgery, arthritis, joint pain, headaches, and restless leg syndrome.

The drug propoxyphene is a known sodium channel blocker and as it enters the right atrium it interferes with the heart’s ability to beat.  This inability creates arrhythmia or fibrillation of the heart and many times causes immediate cardiac death.    Super Ventricular Tachycardia is a tell tale sign of this serious adverse effect.  If a patient is hospitalized or dies from arrhythmia without being accompanied by blockages while taking a Darvocet or one of its generic forms it is very likely that the drug was the cause of the injury or death.  An EKG will show certain patterns which can determine whether this is caused by the effects of the drug or other reasons.

Because sudden death is often accompanied by the arrhythmia the relationship between the deaths and the drug went undetected.  If a patient or the family of a patient believes that this drug could have been the cause of their heart attack or injury a number of facts will need to be reviewed.  Contact Sean Keith, head of the Injury and Tort Section, to discuss your possible case.  A brief telephone interview likely will determine if it this is something that can be pursued on your behalf.  Our firm has represented clients for injuries caused by pharmaceuticals for the last six years and is relied upon by other attorneys for our experience and knowledge.

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CONTACT US

Main:
224 S. 2nd St. Rogers, AR 72756


Ball Plaza:
112 W. Center Street, #555 Fayetteville, AR 72701
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