Attorneys are currently investigating cases of life threatening health problems caused by the popular painkillers Darvon and Darvocet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled the drugs from the market late last year after studies linked use of the drugs to abnormal heart rhythms that in some cases resulted in sudden death.
Darvon, which has the active ingredient propoxyphene, was approved for the treatment of mild to moderate pain in 1957. Shortly afterward propoxyphene was combined with acetaminophen under the brand name Darvocet, and marketed for similar use. When the patent for propoxyphen expired, generic versions of Darvon and Darvocet were introduced.
Red flags soon surfaced as consumer watchdog groups began petitioning the FDA to remove the drug citing serious side effects and the risk for overdose. But the FDA chose to keep propoxyphene on the market and instead place warnings on the drug’s safety label. Meanwhile, Darvon and Darvocet became some of the most prescribed painkillers on the market.
Over time, other countries including the United Kingdom, Australia and the European nations began pulling propoxyphene-containing drugs due to safety concerns. It wasn’t until a new study showed the drug put users at risk for potentially fatal heart rhythm disturbances that the FDA decided to ban all drugs containing propoxyphene, including Darvon and Darvocet.
It’s hard to say how many people have been killed or injured by the drugs. Some estimates have the death toll well into the thousands. Since the drugs were banned, family members have begun filing lawsuits against the makers of propoxyphene-containing drugs in search of justice. The Darvon/Darvocet lawsuits are expected to be one of the largest pharmaceutical cases in the country.