Pain Home > What Is Darvocet?

Many people are curious about what Darvocet is and what it is used for. Darvocet (propoxyphene/acetaminophen) is a prescription medication approved to treat mild to moderate pain. It contains acetaminophen (commonly found in over-the-counter pain relievers) and propoxyphene napsylate (a narcotic). As a controlled substance, it has a significant potential for both psychological and physical dependence and abuse.

In November 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew all medications that contain propoxyphene from the market. It has been determined that the risks of propoxyphene outweigh the possible benefits. In particular, the FDA was concerned about the drug's ability to cause serious changes in the heart rhythm, even at normal doses. Pharmacies will no longer sell this medication, and people who take it should stop and ask their healthcare provider for a more suitable pain medication.

An Overview of Darvocet

Darvocet® (propoxyphene/acetaminophen) is a prescription pain medication. It is licensed for the treatment of mild-to-moderate pain. Darvocet is a narcotic and a controlled substance (see Is Darvocet a Narcotic?). It contains two different pain medications -- acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and propoxyphene napsylate (Darvon-N®).
(Click Darvocet Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

How Does Darvocet Work?

Propoxyphene (one of the active ingredients in Darvocet) is classified as a mild, centrally-acting, narcotic pain reliever. "Centrally-acting" means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Propoxyphene is chemically related to methadone.
The other active ingredient in Darvocet is acetaminophen (commonly known as "APAP"). It is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol. Adding acetaminophen to propoxyphene increases the effectiveness for relieving pain and also provides fever-reducing properties.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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