Selected topic: Toxicology| Volume 41, ISSUE 2, P172-175, August 2011

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Overdose of Propafenone Surreptitiously Sold as “Percocet”

  • Joseph L. D'Orazio
    Reprint Address: Joseph L. D'Orazio, md, Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical Toxicology, Albert Einstein Medical Center, 5501 Old York Road, Korman Building, Suite B-9, Philadelphia, PA 19141
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical Toxicology, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • John A. Curtis
    Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical Toxicology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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      Background: Drug abuse is a common problem in the United States. Drugs can be acquired in many ways, and can be knowingly or mistakenly misrepresented when sold. Propafenone is an uncommonly encountered class IC antidysrhythmic that is a look-alike for the opioid, oxycodone/acetaminophen 5/325. Objective: We report a case of propafenone overdose presenting with generalized tonic-clonic seizure and a widened QRS complex, occurring after the patient had reported ingesting “Percocet®” (Endo Pharmaceuticals, Chadds Ford, PA). Case Report: A 17-year-old boy presented to the emergency department (ED) after a witnessed seizure lasting 2 min. The patient reported having ingested 6 “Percocet®” tablets that he purchased from a classmate. He noted feeling weak and dizzy approximately 3 h after the ingestion, just before the seizure. On arrival in the ED, the patient was awake and alert with a QRS length of 168 ms. A sodium bicarbonate bolus and infusion shortened the QRS length to 90 ms. The patient was discharged the following day with no further complications. The pills were identified as propafenone hydrochloride (HCl) 225-mg tablets. The classmate surreptitiously sold the pills as “Percocet®” due to their similar “512” imprint. Conclusions: Pharmaceutical drugs are often sold on the street, and often misrepresented. Propafenone HCl 225-mg is an uncommonly encountered pharmaceutical, but is a look-alike for oxycodone/acetaminophen 5/325. An overdose due to propafenone ingestion may present with seizures and a widened QRS complex.


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