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What Is Propoxyphene Napsylate Used For?

Propoxyphene napsylate can help treat certain types of short-term or long-term pain in adults. Specifically, this prescription pain reliever can help treat mild-to-moderate pain caused by surgery, a dental procedure, or long-term pain control. It is also useful for people who cannot take acetaminophen, which is found in many other narcotics. There are currently no off-label uses of propoxyphene napsylate.

An Introduction to the Uses of Propoxyphene Napsylate

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 napsylate (Darvon-N®) is a prescription pain medication. It is approved for the treatment of mild-to-moderate pain. It is not strong enough to treat severe pain. Propoxyphene napsylate can be used for both short-term pain, such as after a surgery or dental procedure, or for long-term pain control.
Propoxyphene napsylate is rarely the first choice of pain relievers for most healthcare providers, largely because it is especially dangerous in the case of an overdose, and because it is considered a fairly weak narcotic. However, it can be useful in certain individuals, such as people who cannot take acetaminophen (many narcotics come in combination with acetaminophen) or for those who have been taking the drug for quite a while and have responded well to it.

How Does Propoxyphene Napsylate Work?

Propoxyphene napsylate is classified as a centrally acting narcotic pain reliever. "Centrally acting" means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), rather than directly at the site of the pain.
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