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Dextropropoxyphene Overdose

Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation and Management

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This paper comprehensively reviews the worldwide situation regarding acute overdosage of dextropropoxyphene (propoxyphene). The changing epidemiology of this type of poisoning over the last 20 years is described with discussion of concurrent trends and, in particular, the effects of different preventive measures adopted in various countries. The clinical pharmacology of dextropropoxyphene relevant to the clinical toxic effects resulting from acute overdosage is described, and the management is detailed. In particular, the importance of early diagnosis and treatment is stressed in view of the potentially lethal complications that may suddenly occur with this poisoning. Recommendations for the correct use of the specific narcotic antagonist, naloxone, are made, together with other intensive supportive measures.

As dextropropoxyphene is frequently taken together with other toxic agents, the concomitant effects of alcohol and sedative drugs are described and the treatment of paracetamol (acetaminophen) in combination with dextropropoxyphene is emphasised. The most effective preventive measures for the future are suggested, but caution is advised regarding the prescription for ‘at risk’ patients of alternative analgesics, which may be no safer in overdosage.

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Correspondence to Dr A. A. H. Lawson.

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Lawson, A.A.H., Northridge, D.B. Dextropropoxyphene Overdose. Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp 2, 430–444 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03259877

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  • Paracetamol
  • Naloxone
  • British Medical Journal
  • Acute Poisoning
  • Phene