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Overdose of Darvon may present with the signs and symptoms of propoxyphene overdose. Fatalities within the first hour of overdosage are not uncommon.
In all cases of suspected overdosage, call your regional Poison Control Center to obtain the most up-to-date information about the treatment of overdose. This recommendation is made because, in general, information regarding the treatment of overdosage may change more rapidly than do package inserts.
Initial consideration should be given to the management of the CNS effects of propoxyphene overdosage. Resuscitative measures should be initiated promptly.
Symptoms of Propoxyphene Overdosage
The manifestations of acute overdosage with propoxyphene are those of narcotic overdosage. The patient is usually somnolent but may be stuporous or comatose and convulsing. Respiratory depression is characteristic. The ventilatory rate and/or tidal volume is decreased, which results in cyanosis and hypoxia. Pupils, initially pinpoint, may become dilated as hypoxia increases. Cheyne-Stokes respiration and apnea may occur. Blood pressure and heart rate are usually normal initially, but blood pressure falls and cardiac performance deteriorates, which ultimately results in pulmonary edema and circulatory collapse, unless the respiratory depression is corrected and adequate ventilation is restored promptly. Cardiac arrhythmias and conduction delay may be present. A combined respiratory-metabolic acidosis occurs owing to retained CO2 (hypercapnia) and to lactic acid formed during anaerobic glycolysis. Acidosis may be severe if large amounts of salicylates have also been ingested. Death may occur.
Treatment of Propoxyphene Overdosage
Attention should be directed first to establishing a patent airway and to restoring ventilation. Mechanically assisted ventilation, with or without oxygen, may be required, and positive pressure respiration may be desirable if pulmonary edema is present. The opioid antagonist naloxone will markedly reduce the degree of respiratory depression, and should be administered promptly, preferably intravenously. The duration of action of the antagonist may be brief. If no response is observed after 10 mg of naloxone have been administered, the diagnosis of propoxyphene toxicity should be questioned.
In addition to the use of an opioid antagonist, the patient may require careful titration with an anticonvulsant to control convulsions. Activated charcoal can adsorb a significant amount of ingested propoxyphene. Dialysis is of little value in poisoning due to propoxyphene. Efforts should be made to determine whether other agents, such as alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, or other CNS depressants, were also ingested, since these increase CNS depression as well as cause specific toxic effects or death.
Darvon (propoxyphene) is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to propoxyphene.
Darvon (propoxyphene) is contraindicated in patients with significant respiratory depression (in unmonitored settings or the absence of resuscitative equipment) and patients with acute or severe asthma or hypercarbia.
Darvon (propoxyphene) is contraindicated in any patient who has or is suspected of having paralytic ileus.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 10/12/2009
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