Dextropropoxyphene is an analgesic in the opioid category, patented in 1955 and manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company. It is an optical isomer of levopropoxyphene. It is intended to treat mild pain and also has antitussive (cough suppressant) and local anaesthetic effects. The drug has been taken off the market in Europe and the US due to concerns of fatal overdoses and heart arrhythmias. Its onset of analgesia (pain relief) is said to be 20–30 minutes and peak effects are seen about 1.5–2.0 hours after oral administration.
Dextropropoxyphene is sometimes combined with acetaminophen. Trade names include Darvocet-N and Di-Gesic, Darvon with APAP (for dextropropoxyphene and paracetamol). The British approved name (i.e. the generic name of the active ingredient) of the paracetamol/dextropropoxyphene preparation is co-proxamol (sold under a variety of brand names); however, it has been withdrawn since 2007, and is no longer available to new patients, with exceptions. The paracetamol combination(s) are known as Capadex or Di-Gesic in Australia, Lentogesic in South Africa, and Di-Antalvic in France (unlike co-proxamol, which is an approved name, these are all brand names).
Dextropropoxyphene is known under several synonyms, including:
|oral, IV, rectal|
|Metabolism||Liver-mediated, CYP3A4-mediated N-demethylation (major), aromatic hydroxylation (minor) and ester hydrolysis (minor)|
|Elimination half-life||6–12 hours; 30–36 hours (active metabolite, nordextropropoxyphene)|
|Excretion||Urine (major), breastmilk (minor)|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||339.471 g/mol g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
|Melting point||75 °C (167 °F)|
|(what is this?)|
Dextropropoxyphene, like codeine, is a weak opioid, known to cause dependency among recreational users. Codeine is more commonly used; however, as codeine is, in essence, a prodrug that requires in vivo metabolism for efficacy, it is ineffective for some individuals with the "poor metabolizer" genotype of the liver cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP2D6. In people with this low-function isoform, dextropropoxyphene is particularly useful, as its metabolism does not require CYP2D6. It is also used for patients with digestive complaints, as it is less liable to worsen their symptoms.
In pure form, dextropropoxyphene is commonly used to ease the withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to opioids. Being very weak in comparison to commonly abused opioids, dextropropoxyphene can only act as a "partial" substitute. It does not have much effect on mental cravings, but it can be effective in alleviating physical withdrawal effects, such as muscle cramps.
Dextropropoxyphene is contraindicated in patients allergic to paracetamol (acetaminophen) or dextropropoxyphene, and in alcoholics. It is not intended for use in patients who are prone to suicide, anxiety, panic, or addiction.
Dextropropoxyphene acts as a mu-opioid receptor agonist. It also acts as a potent, noncompetitive α3β4 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, as well as a weak serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
An overdose of dextropropoxyphene may lead to various systemic effects. Excessive opioid receptor stimulation is responsible for the CNS depression, respiratory depression, aspiration pneumonia, miosis, and gastrointestinal effects seen in propoxyphene poisoning. It may also account for mood- or thought-altering effects. In the presence of amphetamine, propoxyphene overdose increases CNS stimulation and may cause fatal convulsive seizures.
In addition, both propoxyphene and its metabolite norpropoxyphene have local anesthetic effects at concentrations about 10 times those necessary for opioid effects. Norpropoxyphene is a more potent local anesthetic than propoxyphene, and they are both more potent than lidocaine. Local anesthetic activity appears to be responsible for the arrhythmias and cardiovascular depression seen in propoxyphene poisoning.
Both propoxyphene and norpropoxyphene are potent blockers of cardiac membrane sodium channels, and are more potent than lidocaine, quinidine, and procainamide in this respect. As a result, propoxyphene and norpropoxyphene appear to have the characteristics of a Vaughn-Williams Class Ic antiarrhythmic.
These direct cardiac effects include decreased heart rate (i.e. cardiovascular depression), decreased contractility, and decreased electrical conductivity (i.e., increased PR, AH, HV, and QRS intervals). These effects appear to be due to their local anesthetic activity and are not reversed by naloxone. Widening of the QRS complex appears to be a result of a quinidine-like effect of propoxyphene, and sodium bicarbonate therapy appears to have a positive direct effect on the QRS dysrhythmia.
Balance disorder is possible, with risk of falls from standing height.
Propoxyphene was initially introduced as propoxyphene hydrochloride. Shortly before the patent on propoxyphene expired, propoxyphene napsylate form was introduced to the market. Napsylate salt (the salt of naphthalenesulfonic acid) is claimed to be less prone to abuse, because it is almost insoluble in water, so cannot be used for injection. Napsylate also gives lower peak blood level. Because of different molecular mass, a dose of 100 mg of propoxyphene napsylate is required to supply an amount of propoxyphene equivalent to that present in 65 mg of propoxyphene hydrochloride.
Before the FDA-directed recall, dextropropoxyphene HCl was available in the United States as a prescription formulation with paracetamol (acetaminophen) in ratio from 30 mg / 600 mg to 100 mg / 650 mg (or 100 mg / 325 mg in the case of Balacet), respectively. These are usually named Darvocet. Darvon is a pure propoxyphene preparation that does not contain paracetamol.
In Australia, dextropropoxyphene is available on prescription, both as a combined product (32.5 mg dextropropoxyphene per 325 mg paracetamol branded as Di-gesic, Capadex, or Paradex; it is also available in pure form (100-mg capsules) known as Doloxene.
Detectable levels of propoxyphene/dextropropoxyphene may stay in a person's system for up to 9 days after last dose and can be tested for specifically in nonstandard urinalysis, but may remain in the body longer in minuscule amounts. Propoxyphene does not show up on standard opiate/opioid tests because it is not chemically related to opiates as part of the OPI or OPI 2000 panels, which detect morphine and related compounds. It is most closely related to methadone.
Dextropropoxyphene is subject to some controversy; while many physicians prescribe it for a wide range of mildly to moderately painful symptoms, as well as for treatment of diarrhea, many others refuse to prescribe it, citing limited effectiveness. In addition, the therapeutic index of dextroproxyphene is relatively narrow.
Caution should be used when administering dextropropoxyphene, particularly with children and the elderly and with patients who may be pregnant or breastfeeding; other reported problems include kidney, liver, or respiratory disorders, and prolonged use. Attention should be paid to concomitant use with tranquillizers, antidepressants, or excess alcohol.
Darvon, a dextropropoxyphene formulation made by Eli Lilly, which had been on the market for 25 years, came under heavy fire in 1978 by consumer groups that said it was associated with suicide. Darvon was never withdrawn from the market, until recently, but Lilly has waged a sweeping, and largely successful, campaign among doctors, pharmacists, and Darvon users to defend the drug as safe when it is used in proper doses and not mixed with alcohol. After determining the risks outweigh the benefits, the USFDA requested physicians stop prescribing the drug. On November 19, 2010, the FDA announced that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals agreed to withdraw Darvon and Darvocet in the United States, followed by manufacturers of dextropropoxyphene.
In Australia, both pure dextropropoxyphene capsules (as napsylate, 100 mg), marketed as Doloxene, and combination tablets and capsules (with paracetamol) all containing 32.5 mg dextropropoxyphene HCl with 325 mg paracetamol, which are currently available on prescription were supposed to be withdrawn from 1 March 2012, but Aspen Pharma sought a review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which ruled in 2013 that the drugs could be sold under strict conditions.
In November 2007, the European Commission requested the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to review the safety and effectiveness of dextropropoxyphene based medicines and on 25 June 2009 the EMA recommended a gradual withdrawal throughout the European Union. The EMA's conclusion was based on evidence that dextropropoxyphene-containing medicines were weak painkillers, the combination of dextropropoxyphene and paracetamol was no more effective than paracetamol on its own, and the difference between the dose needed for treatment and a harmful dose (the "therapeutic index") was too small.
On June 12, 2013, the Indian government suspended the manufacture, sale, and distribution of the drug under Section 26A of the 1940 Drugs and Cosmetic Act.
In Sweden, physicians had long been discouraged by the medical products agency to prescribe dextropropoxyphene due to the risk of respiratory depression and even death when taken with alcohol. Physicians had earlier been recommended to prescribe products with only dextropropoxyphene and not to patients with a history of drug abuse, depression, or suicidal tendencies. Products with mixed active ingredients were taken off the market and only products with dextropropoxyphene were allowed to be sold. Dextropoxyphene was de facto narcotica labelled.
At the time, people who abuse alcohol and other substances and take combination dextropoxyphene / acetaminophen (paracetamol) were discussed as needing to take many combination tablets to reach euphoria, because the amount of dextropropoxyphene per tablet is relatively low (30–40 mg). The ingested paracetamol—the other component—may then reach liver toxic levels. In the case of alcoholics, who often already have damaged livers, even a relatively small overdose with paracetamol may produce hepatotoxicity, liver failure, and necrosis. This toxicity with the combination of overdosed dextroproxyphene (with its CNS/respiratory depression/vomit with risk for aspiration pneumonia, as well as cardiotoxicity) and paracetamol-induced liver damage can result in death.
In the United Kingdom, preparations containing only dextropropoxyphene were discontinued in 2004. In 2007, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency removed the licence for co-proxamol, also called distalgesic. From then on in the UK, co-proxamol is only available on a named patient basis, for long-term chronic pain and only to those who have already been prescribed this medicine. Its withdrawal from the UK market is a result of concerns relating to its toxicity in overdose (even small overdoses can be fatal), and dangerous reaction with alcohol. Recreational use in the UK is uncommon. Many patients have been prescribed alternative combinations of drugs as a replacement.
The motivation for the withdrawal of co-proxamol was the reduction in suicides and a key part of the agency's justification of its decision was based upon studies showing co-proxamol was no more effective than paracetamol alone in pain management. Prescribing authorities, such as the Royal College of General Practitioners, unanimously recommended withdrawal, while patients who responded to the agency's request for information tended to want to continue treatment.
The co-proxamol preparations available in the UK contained a subtherapeutic dose of paracetamol, 325 mg per tablet. Patients were warned not to take more than eight tablets in one day, a total dose of 2600 mg paracetamol per day. Despite this reduced level, patients were still at a high risk of overdose; coproxamol was second only to tricyclic antidepressants as the most common prescription drugs used in overdose. Following the reduction in prescribing in 2005–2007, prior to its complete withdrawal, the number of deaths associated with the drug dropped significantly. Additionally, patients have not substituted other drugs as a method of overdose.
The decision to withdraw co-proxamol has met with some controversy; it has been brought up in the House of Commons on two occasions, 13 July 2005 and on 17 January 2007. Patients have found alternatives to co-proxamol either too strong, too weak, or with intolerable side effects. During the House of Commons debates, it is quoted that originally some 1,700,000 patients in the UK were prescribed co-proxamol. Following the phased withdrawal, this has eventually been reduced to 70,000. However, this apparently is the residual pool of patients who cannot find alternate analgesia to co-proxamol.
The safety net of prescribing co-proxamol after license withdrawal from 31 December 2007, on a "named patient" basis where doctors agree a clinical need exists, has been rejected by most UK doctors because the wording that "responsibility will fall on the prescriber" is unacceptable to most doctors. Some patients intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. However, the European Medicines Agency has recently backed the agency's decision, and recommended in June 2009 that propoxyphene preparations be withdrawn across the European Union.
On 28 March 2017, NHS Clinical Commissioners announced that co-proxamol will be no longer available under NHS England as part of £400m of spending cuts for prescriptions that are believed to have little or no clinical value.
In January 2009, an FDA advisory committee voted 14 to 12 against the continued marketing of propoxyphene products, based on its weak pain-killing abilities, addictiveness, association with drug deaths and possible heart problems, including arrhythmia. A subsequent re-evaluation resulted in a July 2009 recommendation to strengthen the boxed warning for propoxyphene to reflect the risk of overdose. Dextropropoxyphene subsequently carried a black box warning in the U.S., stating:
Propoxyphene should be used with extreme caution, if at all, in patients who have a history of substance/drug/alcohol abuse, depression with suicidal tendency, or who already take medications that cause drowsiness (e.g., antidepressants, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers). Fatalities have occurred in such patients when propoxyphene was misused.
Because of potential for side effects, this drug is on the list for high-risk medications in the elderly.
On November 19, 2010, the FDA requested manufacturers withdraw propoxyphene from the US market, citing heart arrhythmia in patients who took the drug at typical doses. Tramadol, which lacks the cardiotoxicity, has been recommended instead of propoxyphene, as it is also indicated for mild to moderate pain, and is less likely to be misused or cause addiction than other opioids.
High toxicity and relatively easy availability made propoxyphene a drug of choice for right-to-die societies. It is listed in Dr. Philip Nitschke's The Peaceful Pill Handbook and Dr. Pieter Admiraal's Guide to a Humane Self-Chosen Death. "With the withdrawal of the barbiturate sleeping tablets from the medical prescribing list, propoxyphene has become the most common doctor-prescribed medication used by seriously ill people to end their lives." The slang name for the combination of propoxyphene and other drugs used for suicide is "Darvon cocktail".
In cases of propoxyphene overdosage, amphetamine CNS stimulation is potentiated and fatal convulsions can occur.
ATC code N02 Analgesics is a therapeutic subgroup of the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System, a system of alphanumeric codes developed by the WHO for the classification of drugs and other medical products. Subgroup N02 is part of the anatomical group N Nervous system.
Codes for veterinary use (ATCvet codes) can be created by placing the letter Q in front of the human ATC code: for example, QN02. ATCvet codes without corresponding human ATC codes are cited with the leading Q in the following list.National issues of the ATC classification may include additional codes not present in this list, which follows the WHO version.Active metabolite
An active metabolite is an active form of a drug after it has been processed by the body.Analgecine
Analgecine (brand name AGC) is an analgesic extract that is approved for the treatment of back pain and neuralgia in China.Anileridine
Anileridine (trade name: Leritine) is a synthetic analgesic drug and is a member of the piperidine class of analgesic agents developed by Merck & Co. in the 1950s. It differs from pethidine (meperidine) in that the N-methyl group of meperidine is replaced by an N-aminophenethyl group, which increases its analgesic activity.
Anileridine is no longer manufactured in the US or Canada. Anileridine is in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act 1970 of the United States as ACSCN 9020 with a zero aggregate manufacturing quota as of 2014. The free base conversion ratio for salts includes 0.83 for the dihydrochloride and 0.73 for the phosphate It is also under international control per UN treaties.Convulsant
A convulsant is a drug which induces convulsions and/or epileptic seizures, the opposite of an anticonvulsant. These drugs generally act as stimulants at low doses, but are not used for this purpose due to the risk of convulsions and consequent excitotoxicity. Most convulsants are antagonists (or inverse agonists) at either the GABAA or glycine receptors, or ionotropic glutamate receptor agonists. Many other drugs may cause convulsions as a side effect at high doses (e.g. bupropion, tramadol, pethidine, dextropropoxyphene, clomipramine) but only drugs whose primary action is to cause convulsions are known as convulsants. Nerve agents such as sarin, which were developed as chemical weapons, produce convulsions as a major part of their toxidrome, but also produce a number of other effects in the body and are usually classified separately.DSP-2230
DSP-2230 is a selective small-molecule Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 voltage-gated sodium channel blocker which is under development by Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma for the treatment of neuropathic pain. As of June 2014, it is in phase I/phase II clinical trials.Dimenoxadol
Dimenoxadol (INN) (brand name Estocin (in Russia)), or dimenoxadole (BAN), is an opioid analgesic which is a benzilic acid derivative, closely related to benactyzine (an anticholinergic). Further, the structure is similar to methadone and related compounds like dextropropoxyphene.
It was invented in Germany in the 1950s, and produces similar effects to other opioids, including analgesia, sedation, dizziness and nausea.In the United States it is a Schedule I Narcotic controlled substance with an ACSCN of 9617 and a 2013 annual aggregrate manufacturing quota of zero.Dioxaphetyl butyrate
Dioxaphetyl butyrate (INN; trade names Amidalgon, Spasmoxal) is an opioid analgesic which is a diphenylacetic acid derivative, related to other open-chain opioid drugs such as dextropropoxyphene, levacetylmethadol (LAAM), lefetamine and dimenoxadol.
It produces similar effects to other opioids, including dependence, euphoria, analgesia, sedation, constipation, dizziness and nausea.
In the United States it is a Schedule I Narcotic controlled substance with an ACSCN of 9621 and a 2013 annual aggregrate manufacturing quota of zero.Enkephalinase inhibitor
An enkephalinase inhibitor is a type of enzyme inhibitor which inhibits one or more members of the enkephalinase class of enzymes that break down the endogenous enkephalin opioid peptides. Examples include racecadotril, ubenimex (bestatin), RB-101, and D-phenylalanine, as well as the endogenous opioid peptides opiorphin and spinorphin. Analgesic, anticraving, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antidiarrheal effects are common properties of enkephalinase inhibitors.Ketobemidone
Ketobemidone, sold under the brand name Ketogan among others, is a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller. Its effectiveness against pain is in the same range as morphine, and it also has some NMDA-antagonist properties imparted, in part, by its metabolite norketobemidone. This may make it useful for some types of pain that do not respond well to other opioids. It is marketed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and is used for severe pain.Levopropoxyphene
Levopropoxyphene is an antitussive. It is an optical isomer of dextropropoxyphene. The racemic mixture is called propoxyphene. Only the dextro-isomer (dextropropoxyphene) has an analgesic effect; the levo-isomer appears to exert only an antitussive effect. It was formerly marketed in the U.S. by Eli Lilly under the tradename Novrad (a reversal of Darvon) as an antitussive.List of opioids
This is a list of opioids, opioid antagonists and inverse agonists.Norpropoxyphene
Norpropoxyphene is a major metabolite of the opioid analgesic drug dextropropoxyphene, and is responsible for many of the side effects associated with use of this drug, especially the unusual toxicity seen during dextropropoxyphene overdose. It has weaker analgesic effects than dextropropoxyphene itself, but is a relatively potent pro-convulsant and blocker of sodium and potassium channels, particularly in heart tissue, which produces prolonged intracardiac conduction time and can lead to heart failure following even relatively minor overdoses. The toxicity of this metabolite makes dextropropoxyphene up to 10 times more likely to cause death following overdose compared to other similar mild opioid analgesics, and has led to dextropropoxyphene being withdrawn from the market in some countries.Because norpropoxyphene has a long half-life in the body of up to 36 hours (compared to around 6–12 hours for dextropropoxyphene), it can accumulate in tissues during chronic use of dextropropoxyphene-containing medications, especially in people whose excretion of drugs is slower than normal such as young children, the elderly, and individuals with reduced kidney or liver function, and so side effects including serious adverse events are more common in these groups and use of dextropropoxyphene should be avoided where possible.Oxycodone/paracetamol
The combination oxycodone/paracetamol (North American trade name Percocet, generic Endocet and Ratio-Oxycocet in Canada) is a combined opioid/non-opioid pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe acute (short-term) pain, marketed by Endo International plc, formerly Endo Pharmaceuticals.PD-217,014
PD-217,014 is a drug developed by Pfizer and related to gabapentin, which similarly binds to the α2δ calcium channels (1 and 2). It was developed as a potentially more potent successor to gabapentin and pregabalin, along with several other analogues such as atagabalin and 4-methylpregabalin, but while PD-217,014 produces visceral analgesic effects in animal studies with higher potency and efficacy than gabapentin, it was not developed further for clinical use because of its comparatively more complex synthesis, compared to other related analogues.PF-05089771
PF-05089771 is a selective, small-molecule Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 voltage-gated sodium channel blocker under development by Pfizer as a novel analgesic. As of June 2014, it has completed phase II clinical trials for wisdom tooth removal and primary erythromelalgia.SIB-1553A
SIB-1553A is a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist that is selective for receptors with a β4 subunit. Administration of SIB-1553A improved memory and attention in a Parkinson's disease model.Sodium channel blocker
Sodium channel blockers are drugs which impair the conduction of sodium ions (Na+) through sodium channels.Thiocolchicoside
Thiocolchicoside (Muscoril, Myoril, Neoflax) is a muscle relaxant with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It acts as a competitive GABAA receptor antagonist and also glycine receptor antagonist with similar potency and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to a much lesser extent. It has powerful convulsant activity and should not be used in seizure-prone individuals.