Pain Home > Propoxyphene

Available by prescription, propoxyphene is a medicine used to treat pain. This drug comes in two forms and is specifically designed to treat mild to moderate pain. However, because this medication is not considered a strong narcotic and is particularly dangerous in the case of an overdose, it is not typically a healthcare provider's first choice of pain reliever.

What Is Propoxyphene?

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.


Propoxyphene (Darvon®, Darvon-N®) is a prescription medication approved to treat mild-to-moderate pain.
Propoxyphene is available in two different forms, propoxyphene hydrochloride (Darvon) and propoxyphene napsylate (Darvon-N). There are a few important differences between the two forms. Propoxyphene napsylate is less soluble in water compared to the hydrochloride form, perhaps making it less prone to abuse by injection.
Propoxyphene also comes in combination with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) in several different products (see Darvocet for more information). This article specifically applies to the single-ingredient propoxyphene products, not the ones combined with acetaminophen.
(Click Propoxyphene Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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