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April 13, 1979

Propoxyphene: Is It a Hazard to Health?

Author Affiliations

Department of Drugs American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1979;241(15):1618. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290410050027

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I wish to express dismay over the methods being employed to deal with a scientific problem. I refer specifically to the petition of Dr Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group (a Ralph Nader affiliate) to have the widely used analgesic agent, propoxyphene (Darvon), banned as an imminent hazard to the public health. This petition was based on an observation that propoxyphene was frequently mentioned in reports of fatalities due to gross drug overdose as one of the agents ingested with or without suicidal intent. I do not quarrel with the accuracy of these reports, but disagree strongly with their being made a cause célèbre in the political arena to force a decision that is purely scientific in nature. As the result of the wide publicity given the Wolfe petition, Senator Gaylord Nelson made propoxyphene the subject of hearings before his Senate subcommittee. These sessions were characterized by rancor, innuendo,