Pharmaceutical

Mixing banned Darvocet with beer lands woman in jail

A dangerous combination of the now-banned drug Darvocet, pseudoephedrine and beer drove one woman make a scene in a public parking lot, wrestle with police officers, and end up in jail, adding more fuel to the firestorm surrounding the safety of the popular prescription painkiller Darvocet.

Darvocet contains propoxyphene, a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 50 years ago for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. The drug’s safety has come into question over the years because users can easily overdose on the drug without realizing it. It is especially potent when combined with alcohol.

Despite the concerns, the FDA chose to keep the drug on the market and highlight the drug’s overdose risk on the safety label. A recent study that linked the drug to dangerous abnormal heart rhythms convinced the FDA to pull the drug early this year.

Because Darvocet and equivalent drugs that contain propoxyphene, such as Darvon, were so widely prescribed, not everyone knows that the medication they have been taking to manage pain can be dangerous. It may explain why Marcia Diane Stopkowitz-Smith, 45, of Ashville, N.C., began making a scene outside a Kingsport, N.C. motel. Her outburst led witnesses to call police. When they responded, Smith stopped her screaming and cussing and ran to her husband and hugged him. He told police she had taken the deadly cocktail of Darvocet, pseudoephedrine and alcohol.

Police waited until Smith could contain herself, then they attempted to handcuff her, but reports say the woman began pushing the officer away and then tried to scratch him. When she was being placed in the police car, Smith allegedly head-butted the officer. Once in the back seat, she kicked the window, knocking it off its tracks. When officers opened the door to tell her to stop kicking, she began kicking at an officer. They used pepper spray to subdue her.

Once at the jail, Smith was treated for the spray of mace and passed out. She was revived and transported to the hospital. After evaluation, Smith was returned to jail. She has been charged with resisting arrest, vandalism of less than $500, and two counts of simple assault on a police officer.