propoxyphene and acetaminophen, Darvocet A500; Darvocet-N, Wygesic

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is propoxyphene and acetaminophen, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

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.

Is propoxyphene and acetaminophen available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for propoxyphene and acetaminophen?

Yes

What are the side effects of propoxyphene and acetaminophen?

The most frequent adverse reactions of propoxyphene include:

Other side effects include:

  • drowsiness,
  • constipation, and
  • spasm of the ureter, which can lead to difficulty in urinating.

Propoxyphene can depress breathing and, therefore, is used with caution in elderly, debilitated patients, and in patients with serious lung disease. Propoxyphene can impair thinking and the physical abilities required for driving or operating machinery. Propoxyphene may be habit forming. Mental and physical dependence can occur but are unlikely when it is used short-term.

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