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Use of dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination in psychiatric hospital in Bahrain: is there a cause for concern?

Author(s): Al Khaja KA, Al-Haddad MK, Al-Offi AR, Abdulraheem MH, Sequeira RP

Affiliation(s): Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. khlidj@agu.edu.bh

Publication date & source: 2009-04, Fundam Clin Pharmacol., 23(2):253-8.

There are concerns about the safety of the dextropropoxyphene and acetaminophen fixed-dose combination, particularly in patients with psychiatric morbidity, which has led to a phased withdrawal of this fixed-dose combination in many countries. A retrospective prescription audit was conducted to evaluate the dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination prescribing pattern in the major psychiatric hospital of Bahrain. The data analysis was performed using SPSS/PC+ version 14.0. Prescriptions with the dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination comprised 11.8% of all dispensed prescriptions and in most instances for outpatients undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation. Nearly half of the patients received >or=20 tablets of this fixed-dose combination (mean +/- SD: 30.9 +/- 13.1; range 20-126) as multiple doses. The dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination was often co-prescribed with psychotropics, such as benzodiazepines (BZDs) (25.4%), BZDs + antidepressants (62.9%), BZDs + antipsychotics (3.7%) and BZDs + anticonvulsants (1.9%). Approximately 40% of prescriptions with the dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination were written 'as required' (prn), basis. Despite poor safety and efforts to restrict or withdraw worldwide, the dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination continues to be irrationally prescribed to outpatients undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation in Bahrain. Health policy decision-makers should introduce a phased withdrawal of this drug from clinical use. In the meanwhile, it is important to create awareness among prescribers of the risks associated with over-dosage of the dextropropoxyphene + acetaminophen fixed-dose combination and its interaction with other psychotropic medications.

Page last updated: 2010-10-05

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