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Lymphoma and Pets
FDA Panel Recommends Ban on Popular Painkiller
Narcotic painkillers like propoxyphene fall into three broad classes:
NATURAL opiates: These drugs are derived directly from the opium poppy, like codeine and morphine. Morphine has been something of the gold standard among painkillers for a century.
SEMI-SYNTHETIC opioids: These drugs are derivatives based on the natural opiates and include hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) and oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan, Oxycontin), among many others.
FULLY SYNTHETIC opioids: These drugs are pharmacologically divorced from the natural opium poppy and here’s where you find propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvocet) as well as methadone (Methadose), among others.
Among the benefits of a fully synthetic opioid is the fact that some patients don’t tolerate codeine and codeine derivatives—they’re allergic, for instance—meaning narcotic pain control has to come from one of these, if it comes from anywhere.
Opioid addiction is a very real possibility from any one of these drugs in any of the classes listed. Consequently, for chronic pain patients, the addiction factor is a double scourge: a scourge in that it discourages some doctors from adequately treating pain lest they create dependency in their patients, and a scourge in that they may truly develop a dependency. Either way, the patient loses.
Pain management is a legitimate branch of medicine. Hundreds of thousands of people rely on propoxyphene products to manage their pain. Should the ban take place, other options remain available, but not all of them are going to be any more or less attractive to government policy makers or consumer watchdog groups for the same reasons they don't like propoxyphene.
At any rate, the FDA isn't required to follow the panel's advice but should they do so, patients or their caregivers should consult with their doctor about other viable options for the management of their chronic pain.