What is Darvocet?
Structurally, it’s a relative of the synthetic narcotic, methadone. It’s prescribed in two forms- propoxyphene hydrochloride and propoxyphene napsylate -for relief of mild to moderate pain.
Aside from slight differences-the napsylate (or N-form) of propoxyphene is more slowly absorbed in the body and so has a longer duration of action-the two drugs are identical. Both are found in a number of prescription pain medications, including:
- Darvon and Darvon-N (propoxyphene only)
- Darvon with A.S.A., Darvon-N with A.S.A. (with aspirin)
- Darvocet, Darvocet-N, Wygesic (with acetaminophen)
- Darvon Compound, Darvon Compound-65 (with aspirin and caffeine)
How is Darvocet used?
Darvocet when abused is taken orally, chewed, crushed (then snorted like cocaine), or crushed (then dissolved in water and injected like heroin).
What are the side effects of Darvocet?
The side effects of Darvocet are:
- abdominal pain
- feelings of elation or depression
- kidney problems
- liver problems
- minor visual disturbances
- skin rashes
- yellowed eyes and skin
What other medicines can interact with Darvocet?
The propoxyphene in these drugs slows down the central nervous system and intensifies the effects of alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol with this drug may cause overdose symptoms. Therefore, limit or avoid use of alcohol while you are taking this medication.
If these medications are taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining them with the following:
- Antiseizure medications such as Tegretol
- Antidepressant drugs such as Elavil
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl
- Muscle relaxants such as Flexeril
- Narcotic pain relievers such as Demerol
- Sleep aids such as Halcion
- Tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium
- Warfarin -like drugs such as Coumadin
The use of these drugs with propoxyphene can lead to potentially fatal overdose symptoms.
Severe neurologic disorders, including coma, have occurred with the use of propoxyphene in combination with Tegretol.
The use of anticoagulants (blood thinners such as Coumadin) in combination with Darvon Compound-65 may cause bleeding. If you are taking an anticoagulant, consult your doctor before taking this drug.
The use of aspirin with drugs for gout may alter the effects of the antigout medication. Consult your doctor before taking Darvon Compound-65.
Is Darvocet addictive?
Yes, given darvocet’s similarities to methadone, it’s not surprising that the drug is as addictive as it is.
In fact, the medical journal Clinical Pharmacology even argued that darvocet’s “most prominent effect…may be its addictive quality.”
Darvon produces psychological and physical dependence like other narcotics, and treatment for Darvon dependence is much the same, too.
Can you overdose on Darvocet?
Yes, the symptoms of an overdose are:
- Symptoms of a propoxyphene overdose may include:
Bluish tinge to the skin, coma, convulsions, decreased or difficult breathing to the point of temporary stoppage, decreased heart function, extreme sleepiness, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, pinpoint pupils becoming dilated later, stupor
- Additional symptoms of overdose with Darvocet-N:
Abdominal pain, excessive sweating, general feeling of illness, kidney failure, liver problems, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
- Additional symptoms of overdose with Darvon Compound-65:
Confusion, deafness, excessive perspiration, headache, mental dullness, nausea, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, ringing in the ears, vertigo, vomiting
Extreme overdose may lead to unconsciousness and death.
Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Do not take these medications if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant unless you are directed to do so by your doctor. Temporary drug dependence may occur in newborns when the mother has taken this drug consistently in the weeks before delivery. The use of Darvon Compound-65 (which contains aspirin) during pregnancy may cause problems in the developing baby or complications during delivery. Do not take it during the last 3 months of pregnancy. Darvocet-N does appear in breast milk.