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March 5, 1973

Deaths Involving PropoxypheneA Study of 41 Cases Over a Two -Year Period

Author Affiliations

From the departments of pathology (Drs. Sturner and Garriott) and pharmacology (Dr. Garriott), University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas, Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas.

JAMA. 1973;223(10):1125-1130. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220100025006

Forty-one deaths occurred involving propoxyphene hydrochloride (Darvon) during a two-year period. Ten patients died from propoxyphene intoxication alone, while 12 were victims of a propoxyphene-alcohol combination, the latter number being identical to the deaths from a combination of barbiturates with alcohol seen during the same period. Five young women died from an ingestion of propoxyphene following an "argument." Four patients could be categorized as "drug abusers" due to historical circumstances. The high levels of propoxyphene suggested habituation in three instances. Physicians should be alerted to the potential deleterious effects of indiscriminate use and abuse of propoxyphene, and should warn their patients not to drink alcoholic beverages when taking propoxyphene. They should use extreme caution when prescribing it to those in the younger age group.