GENERIC NAME: propoxyphene and acetaminophen
DISCONTINUED BRANDS: Darvocet A500, Darvocet-N, Wygesic
All propoxyphene containing products (brand and generic) were withdrawn from the US market in November 2010 because of the risk of serious heart related side effects.
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Propoxyphene is a strong narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant but is weaker than other narcotics such as morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone. The precise mechanism of action is not known but may involve stimulation of opioid receptors in the brain. Propoxyphene increases pain tolerance and decreases discomfort, but the presence of pain is still apparent. In addition to pain reduction, propoxyphene also causes sedation and respiratory depression. Acetaminophen is a non-narcotic analgesic and antipyretic (fever reducer). Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. The combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen achieves greater pain relief than either taken separately. For more information on acetaminophen, please see acetaminophen (Tylenol). The FDA first approved propoxyphene/acetaminophen combinations in October 1972.
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