(UPDATE 11/19/10 - Darvocet and Darvon have been removed from the market in the U.S.) Darvocet is an analgesic medication used to relieve pain. Darvocet is commonly prescribed as part of a treatment regimen to manage arthritis pain and other painful conditions. Safety warnings about Darvocet should be respected. To enhance patient safety, Darvocet must be taken according to directions. There are 10 things you should know about Darvocet.
1 - Darvocet is a combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen.
Propoxyphene belongs to the drug class known as narcotic analgesics, also known as opioid analgesics. Drugs in this class relieve pain by affecting how the brain perceives or senses pain. The combination of acetaminophen and propoxyphene offers more effective pain relief than either drug alone. Acetaminophen increases the effects of propoxyphene when combined with it.
2 - Propoxyphene is about half to two-thirds as potent as codeine, but it can still be habit-forming.
With Darvocet (propoxyphene and acetaminophen), physical and psychological dependence can occur in some people. Darvocet should not be stopped suddenly, especially following long-term use or high doses. If you have been taking Darvocet continuously for five to seven days, discuss how you should stop the drug with your doctor.
3 - Darvocet is supplied in various formulations.
Darvocet is available as Darvocet N-50, Darvocet N-100, and Darvocet A500 (tablets), as well as Darvon pulvules (capsules). All of the products are given orally. It is important that the maximum allowed doses not be exceeded. The maximum amounts of each of the drug's ingredient allowed per day are 600 mg. propoxyphene and 4,000 mg acetaminophen.
4 - Since Darvocet contains acetaminophen, you must be careful about taking over-the-counter medications that also contain acetaminophen.
Darvocet N-100 contains 100 mg. of propoxyphene napsylate and 650 mg. of acetaminophen (the equivalent of two regular strength Tylenol or acetaminophen). Due to potential toxicity problems, the daily allowance for acetaminophen is 4,000 mg. If you take six Darvocets per day, for example, the amount of acetaminophen ingested is 3,900 mg. Taking an over-the-counter cold or sinus medication which contains acetaminophen in addition to this will put you over the limit and at risk for serious side effects, as well as potentially fatal consequences.
5 - Alcohol should be avoided when taking Darvocet.
Alcohol can increase unwanted side effects when combined with acetaminophen and propoxyphene. Alcohol can intensify the drowsiness and dizziness Darvocet may cause in some people. Propoxyphene in combination with alcohol has been found to be a cause of drug-related deaths. Alcohol may also increase liver toxicity caused by acetaminophen.
6 - Darvocet can interact with certain other drugs, causing dangerous sedation.
Antidepressants, antihistamines, and sedatives used for insomnia, other pain medications, muscle relaxants, anxiety medications, and even alcohol can cause a dangerous level of sedation or unconsciousness, and even prove fatal, when combined with Darvocet. Darvocet should not be used if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) in the last 14 days. Darvocet can also increase the risk of bleeding if you take an oral anticoagulant, like coumadin. Be sure your doctor knows all of the medications you are taking.
7 - If you have any of the following pre-existing conditions, you should discuss taking Darvocet with your doctor. You may require a dose adjustment or more careful monitoring.
Do not take Darvocet if you experience depression or suicidal thoughts. Before taking Darvocet, let your doctor know if any of the following apply to you:
- history of drug or alcohol addiction
- drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day
- kidney or liver disease
- urinary retention
- enlarged prostate
- a history of epileptic seizures
- gallbladder problems
- Addison's disease
- head injury
8 - Little information is known about the drug's effects on a fetus.
It is possible that propoxyphene may cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms in an unborn baby. Propoxyphene may also cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms in a baby who is nursing. Talk to your doctor if you are thinking of becoming pregnant or planning to nurse your baby. Birth defects have been noted in case reports of women taking propoxyphene during pregnancy.
9 - If you experience any serious side effects while taking Darvocet, stop taking the drug and seek emergency medical help.
Serious side effects include:
- an allergic reaction
- slow or weak breathing; difficulty breathing
- cold, clammy skin
- severe dizziness
- severe weakness
- loss of consciousness
- yellow skin or eyes
- extreme fatigue
- bleeding or bruising, which is unusual
10 - There are common side effects associated with Darvocet that are less severe.
You can continue taking the drug, but talk to your doctor about less severe side effects to determine if there may be a solution. Side effects which are considered common and less severe include:
- dry mouth
- nausea or vomiting
- decreased appetite
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- muscle twitching
- sweating or itching
- decreased urination
- decreased sex drive
Acetaminophen and Propoxyphene. MedlinePlus. 7/21/2007.
Darvocet-N. RxList. 7/21/2007.
Darvocet N-100. Drugs.com. 7/21/2007.