The government is making it tougher to get the pain-killing drug Darvon because of evidence that some people use it to commit suicide and many others are abusing it in less serious ways.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has published regulations requiring manufacturers and pharmacists to keep records of the amount of Darvon produced and sold and allowing only five refills per prescription.
The drug's chemical name is dextro-propopxyphene. Eli Lilly & Co., the principal manufacturer, markets it under the brand name of Darvon. Doctors prescribe it as a pain-killer.
"It's about as effective as aspirin," Dr. Robert Zendzian, a DEA senior pharmacologist, said Thursday. Many physicians prescribe it too often and allow their patients to continue taking it too long, he charged.
Statistics gathered in a government monitoring program from July, 1972, to September, 1975, showed that 1,369 persons died from overdoses of Darvon alone or in combination with other depressant drugs, Zendzian said.
Many of them apparently used Darvon to commit suicide and others took it to produce euphoria, he said.
Darvon affects the body like the narcotics morphine and codeine, but it is milder and it takes a much higher dose to produce a high or to kill, DEA officials said.