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Propoxyphene and pain management in the elderly.

Author(s): Mort JR, Schroeder SD

Affiliation(s): South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, USA.

Publication date & source: 2009-11, S D Med., 62(11):433-5.

Pain is frequently reported and often undertreated in the elderly population. In light of these concerns, it is important to examine potentially ineffective or problematic pain medications. Propoxyphene is one such agent whose efficacy and safety have been questioned by researchers, clinicians and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, multiple studies have found propoxyphene to be no more effective than acetaminophen (APAP), yet propoxyphene causes opioid side effects and has been involved in many drug-related deaths. In addition, propoxyphene/APAP products are often prescribed at doses that exceed maximum values (49.2 percent of APAP/propoxyphene napsylate 100 prescriptions for South Dakota Medicaid patients exceeded the maximum daily dose). The relevance of propoxyphene use is seen by the 7.1 percent prevalence of propoxyphene prescriptions among the South Dakota Medicare beneficiaries, which is comparable to the 6.8 percent reported in the U.S. community-based Medicare population. Therefore, it is very important to consider alternatives to propoxyphene such as APAP, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (rare use due to adverse effects) and other opioids, when managing elderly patients with pain.

Page last updated: 2010-10-05

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