"Nov. 2, 2012 -- Safety steps taken in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak have worsened drug shortages, raising questions about whether the U.S. must choose between the safety and the availability of crucial medicines.
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Propoxyphene is a centrally acting opiate analgesic. In vitro studies demonstrated propoxyphene and the metabolite norpropoxyphene inhibit sodium channels (local anesthetic effect) with norpropoxyphene being approximately 2-fold more potent than propoxyphene and propoxyphene approximately 10-fold more potent than lidocaine. Propoxyphene and norpropoxyphene inhibit the voltage-gated potassium current carried by cardiac rapidly activating delayed rectifier (hERG) channels with approximately equal potency. It is unclear if the effects on ion channels occur within therapeutic dose range.
Peak plasma concentrations of propoxyphene are reached in 2 to 2.5 h. After a 65-mg oral dose of propoxyphene hydrochloride, peak plasma levels of 0.05 to 0.1 µg/mL for propoxyphene and 0.1 to 0.2 µg/mL for norpropoxyphene (major metabolite) are achieved. Repeated doses of propoxyphene at 6 h intervals lead to increasing plasma concentrations, with a plateau after the ninth dose at 48 h. Propoxyphene has a half-life of 6 to 12 h, whereas that of norpropoxyphene is 30 to 36 h.
Propoxyphene is about 80% bound to proteins and has a large volume of distribution, 16 L/kg.
Propoxyphene undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism by intestinal and hepatic enzymes. The major route of metabolism is cytochrome CYP3A4 mediated N-demethylation to norpropoxyphene, which is excreted by the kidneys. Ring hydroxylation and glucuronide formation are minor metabolic pathways.
In 48 h, approximately 20 to 25% of the administered dose of propoxyphene is excreted via the urine, most of which is free or conjugated norpropoxyphene. The renal clearance rate of propoxyphene is 2.6 L/min.
After oral administration of propoxyphene in elderly patients (70-78 years), much longer half-lives of propoxyphene and norpropoxyphene have been reported (propropoxyphene 13 to 35 h, norpropoxyphene 22 to 41 h). In addition, the AUC was an average of 3-fold higher and the Cmax was an average of 2.5-fold higher in the elderly when compared to a younger (20-28 years) population. Longer dosage intervals may be considered in the elderly because the metabolism of propoxyphene may be reduced in this patient population. After multiple oral doses of propoxyphene in elderly patients (70-78 years), the Cmax of the metabolite (norpropoxyphene) was increased 5-fold.
Propoxyphene has not been studied in pediatric patients.
No formal pharmacokinetic study of propoxyphene has been conducted in patients with mild, moderate or severe hepatic impairment.
After oral administration of propoxyphene in patients with cirrhosis, plasma concentrations of propoxyphene were considerably higher and norpropoxyphene concentrations were much lower than in control patients. This is presumably because of a decreased first-pass metabolism of orally administered propoxyphene in these patients. The AUC ratio of norpropoxyphene: propoxyphene was significantly lower in patients with cirrhosis (0.5 to 0.9) than in controls (2.5 to 4).
No formal pharmacokinetic study of propoxyphene has been conducted in patients with mild, moderate or severe renal impairment.
After oral administration of propoxyphene in anephric patients, the AUC and Cmax values were an average of 76% and 88% greater, respectively. Dialysis removes only insignificant amounts (8%) of administered dose of propoxyphene.
The metabolism of propoxyphene may be altered by strong CYP3A4 inhibitors (such as ritonavir, ketoconazole, itraconazole, troleandomycin, clarithromycin, nelfinavir, nefazadone, amiodarone, amprenavir, aprepitant, diltiazem, erythromycin, fluconazole, fosamprenavir, grapefruit juice, and verapamil) leading to enhanced propoxyphene plasma levels. On the other hand, strong CYP3A4 inducers such as rifampin may lead to enhanced metabolite (norpropoxyphene) levels.
Propoxyphene is also thought to possess CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 enzyme inhibiting properties. Coadministration with a drug that is a substrate of CYP3A4 or CYP2D6, may result in higher plasma concentrations and increased pharmacologic or adverse effects of that drug.
Last reviewed on RxList: 10/12/2009
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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