Billions at Stake in Darvon, Darvocet Lawsuits

Victims of Darvon, Darvocet and other propoxyphene drugs could potentially recover billions of dollars in product liability lawsuits, legal experts say. That’s because a great many Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits will likely involve wrongful death claims.

Propoxyphene is an opiod painkiller that was first sold as Darvon in 1957. Darvocet is a combination drug made with propoxyphene and acetaminophen. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finally asked the makers of propoxyphene products to pull them from the market in November, after a study conducted by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Darvon and Darvocet, found it could cause an irregular heartbeat. This condition, called QT prolongation, lengthens the time between the Q wave and T waves, which are two of five electrical impulses that measure the regularity of a heartbeat. There are no symptoms of this condition, but it can lead to a potentially lethal rapid heartbeat called ventricular tachycardia.

According to Public Citizen, which has petitioned the FDA twice since 1978 to ban propoxyphene, the painkiller is not very effective, is toxic at doses not much higher than the recommend dose because a heart-toxic metabolite accumulates in the body, and is somewhat addictive. It has been linked to many thousands of U.S. deaths since 1981, a large proportion of which were likely caused by cardiac toxicity, including the interruption of electrical conduction in the heart, the group said.

Propoxyphene bans were announced in the United Kingdom almost six years ago, and in Europe, almost 1½ years ago. In January 2009, an FDA advisory panel even recommended that propoxyphene be banned in the U.S., but the FDA waited to act.

According to a report from, one plaintiff’s <"">Darvocet attorney in Oklahoma expects the litigation surrounding propoxyphene to be huge, with total recoveries possibly amounting to billions of dollars, just judging from the number of inquiries his firm has received. Most of those inquiries have involved deaths, the lawyer said. According to that article, autopsy reports in show the drug caused the deaths of at least 112 Oklahomans from 2006 to 2010.

Lawyers in other parts of the country have also reported a huge response since the propoxyphene recall was announced.

“The numbers are astronomical. It has the potential to be as big as fen-phen,” Jerrold Parker, a partner with the national <"">personal injury law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, recently told the Daily Record. According to that report, Parker Waichman Alonso LLP has received as many as 1,000 phone inquiries per day since Darvon and Darvocet were recalled in November.

As we’ve reported previously, Parker Waichman Alonso LLP filed one of the first Darvocet lawsuits on behalf of Karen Esposito, a 31-year-old Queens, New York woman who claims to have suffered a near-fatal heart attack shortly after using the drug. In December, the firm petitioned the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Ms. Esposito’s behalf, seeking the consolidation of all federal lawsuits involving the above mentioned drugs in a multidistrict <"">Darvocet and Darvon litigation in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein.

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