Thousands of Darvon, Darvocet Lawsuits Expected

Personal injury attorneys are preparing Darvocet and <"">Darvon litigation against the makers of propoxyphene-based painkillers. It seems that the alleged cardiac response to the drugs could be fatal with erratic origins that provide no symptoms, noted the Daily Mail.

Attorneys expect a major mass tort. “The numbers are astronomical. It has the potential to be as big as fen-phen,” said Jerrold Parker of Parker Waichman Alonso, located in Port Washington, New York, quoted the Daily Record. Since last month’s recall, Matthew McCauley, also of Parker Waichman Alonso, has been receiving some 1,000 calls daily, said the Daily Record.

It was McCauley who filed one of the first <"">Darvocet lawsuits on December 10th on behalf of a client who experienced a life-threatening arrhythmic cardiac event, said the Daily Record. Plaintiff Kristine Esposito, 31, took Darvocet for one week for stomach pain, noted the Daily Record. Other suits, including a Darvocet class action lawsuit, are also underway

Propoxyphene is an opiod painkiller that was first sold as Darvon in 1957. Darvocet is a combination drug made with propoxyphene and acetaminophen. In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. had agreed to pull Darvon and Darvocet from the market after a study linked propoxyphene to serious and sometimes fatal heart rhythm problems. The agency also asked makers of generic propoxyphene medications to pull those as well.

With an estimated 10 million prescriptions written in 2009, the legal ramifications are staggering, the Daily Mail pointed out.

Parker said that Parker Waichman Alonso intends on amending its complaint to include drug maker Eli Lilly, said the Daily Record, which pointed out that Eli Lilly sold the medication to AAI pharmaceuticals in 2002. Xanodyne purchased the drug in 2005 after AAI declared bankruptcy. The lawsuit alleges products liability and negligence and that drug makers did not advise physicians and patients about the cardiac risks liked to propoxyphene, said the Daily Record.

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

Even when taken as prescribed, said the Daily Record, research indicates that norpropoxyphene, the propxyphene metabolite, can lead to irregular heartbeat in the form of QT prolongation, which extends timing between Q and T waves—two of five electrical impulses measuring heartbeat regularity, noted The Daily Record.

This condition is particularly worrisome because, as McCauley points out, QT prolongation does not cause symptoms and, in some cases, can lead to deadly rapid heartbeat known as ventricular tachycardia.

“QT prolongation [caused by] medications is not new—a lot of anti-arrhythmics cause QT prolongation. The difference is those medications are prescribed by cardiologists who are already monitoring your heart. When you give somebody Darvocet or Darvon, you don’t have a cardiologist looking after you,” said McCauley, quoted the Daily Record. McCauley also explains that the condition is a so-called “signature” injury resulting from a small group of drugs, including propoxyphene, said the Daily Record.

“Not only was this drug extremely dangerous but it had zero efficacy. If you took aspirin or Tylenol, it probably would have been more effective than Darvocet,” said Parker, quoted the Daily Record.

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