New Darvocet Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Louisiana

The maker of <"">Darvocet is facing a class action lawsuit that alleges the manufacturer’s neglect to warn patients of the drug’s—and its generic equivalent’s—risks and side effects.

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

Now, said the Louisiana Record, Deborah M. Rogers, filed an individual lawsuit and class action on behalf of all others “similarly situated,” against Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals. The lawsuit was filed in New Orleans federal court on April 28.

According to Rogers, in 2006 she was prescribed Propoxyphene, Darvocet’s generic version, for pain. She alleges that the drug created a serious risk of harm and that the maker of the drug never warned patients, physicians, and other health care workers of the risks involved, said the Louisiana Record. Accusations also include violations of the “federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and breach of express warranty, violating of warranty of redhibition, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, negligence, and strict products liability—inadequate warning,” said the Louisiana Record.

As we’ve reported previously, the dangers of Darvon and Darvocet were known long before the painkillers were recalled. 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. According to Public Citizen, the FDA’s delay has cost thousands of lives. Defective drug lawyers around the country expect Darvon and Darvon lawsuits could number in the thousands.

“The numbers are astronomical. It has the potential to be as big as fen-phen,” Jerrold Parker, a partner with the national 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 Darvon and Darvocet in a multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein.

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