Propoxyphene/acetaminophen is a drug used for relieving mild to moderate pain, with or without a fever. It is a combination drug that contains both a narcotic and a pain reliever/fever reducer commonly found in over-the-counter products. At this time, there are no uses of propoxyphene/acetaminophen approved for children under the age of 12.
In November 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew all medications that contain propoxyphene from the market. It has been determined that the risks of propoxyphene outweigh the possible benefits. In particular, the FDA was concerned about the drug's ability to cause serious changes in the heart rhythm, even at normal doses. Pharmacies will no longer sell this medication, and people who take it should stop and ask their healthcare provider for a more suitable pain medication.
Propoxyphene/acetaminophen is used both for short-term pain (such as after a surgery or dental procedure) or for long-term pain control. Because it contains a narcotic, many healthcare providers like to limit propoxyphene/acetaminophen use to the shortest period of time possible (see Darvocet Addiction for more information).
How Does It Work?
Propoxyphene (one of the active ingredients in propoxyphene/acetaminophen) is classified as a mild, centrally-acting, narcotic pain reliever. "Centrally-acting" means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Propoxyphene is chemically related to methadone.
The other active ingredient in propoxyphene/acetaminophen is acetaminophen (commonly known as "APAP"). It is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol. Adding acetaminophen to propoxyphene increases the effectiveness for relieving pain and also provides fever-reducing properties.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Propoxyphene: Withdrawal -- Risk of Cardiac Toxicity (11/19/2010). FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm234389.htm. November 19, 2010.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind.
Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click