The painkilling drug Darvon (propoxyphene) was banned this week by the FDA because it can cause potentially fatal arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). But other pain medications, like methadone, can also cause dangerous arrhythmias. I have been asked a few times why was Darvon banned, but not methadone?

For one thing, Darvon is not a very effective drug. What’s more, Darvon caused heart rhythm abnormalities even in healthy volunteers who had no history of heart disease or any other organ problem. Methadone, on the other hand, is a very effective pain drug and is also used to treat opiate addiction. If you are taking methadone, it’s important that your electrocardiogram be monitored before and, periodically, during the time you are taking the drug. That way it’s possible to identify dangerous changes in heart rhythm and stop the drug before an arrhythmia occurs.

~ Norman Marcus, MD
Norman Marcus Pain Institute, New York NY
 
“Your New York City Pain Relief Doctor”
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