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Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

medicine-pharmacy-pillsOxycodone vs Hydrocodone

Oxycodone and hydrocodone are two highly debated drugs often prescribed to relieve extreme pain. They are classified as narcotic analgesics. Being such, they can lead to some health hazards when not used as prescribed. The two are chemically similar and they give off almost the same range of side effects. But surprisingly, they also have lots of differences.

Hydrocodone is usually prescribed by the doctor as a remedy for minor to moderate degrees of pain and, at the same time, helps manage coughing. Oxycodone, on the other hand, is considered to be more potent than the former because it is about 5 times more effective in pain suppression. Therefore, oxycodone is given to patients suffering from more severe pain like those related to trauma, chronic pain injuries and even cancer-related pains.

Although both hydrocodone and oxycodone have preparations that are classified as Schedule II narcotics, all other drugs that contain oxycodone like Tylox, Percocet and Roxilox are still placed under schedule II while the drugs that contain hydrocodone are only placed under Schedule III. Examples of such are Lortab, Lorcet and Vicodin. This means that Oxycodone has a higher potential for abuse compared to the former. Usually, acetaminophen is the other drug component added to the mixture to make the variety of branded hydrocodone and oxycodone medications.

Due to the strength of oxycodone, the doctor can’t just do a ‘call in’ of the drug at the pharmacy. There must be a written prescription for someone to be able to buy such a controlled drug. For the case of hydrocodone, the doctor can simply make a ‘call in’ for the drug to be released.

Lastly, both oxycodone and hydrocodone are available in their own generic forms. But it is only oxycodone which has a single ingredient preparation. This means that all hydrocodone medications are in combination with other drug components like (as mentioned) acetaminophen.

With regard to the effectiveness in pain management, both can do the job although a lot of patients would testify that they were easily relieved by using oxycodone. Nevertheless, this is a case to case basis as some would claim otherwise.

1. Oxycodone is a stronger pain reliever than hydrocodone.

2. Oxycodone is for managing severe pain while hydrocodone is for mild to moderate pain.

3. All oxycodone drugs are placed under Schedule II drug classification while some hydrocodone drugs are placed under Schedule III.

4. Oxycodone can’t be ‘called in’ by the doctor at the pharmacy while hydrocodone can be ordered even without the doctor’s prescription.

5. Oxycodone can be bought as a single ingredient drug while hydrocodone is usually marketed as a combination drug.


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5 Comments

  1. Lots of misspellings create a less-authoritative appearance to this article: “aspirin” spelled “asprin”, Percocet spelled “Perocet.” I stopped looking at that point.

    Also, very important: “in lieu of” means “instead of” (French). To say that Oxycodone can only be purchased “in lieu of a doctor’s prescription” sends entirely the wrong message.

    Please use spell-check or a proofreader!

  2. Re: the summary: Above, I heard you saying that Vicodin and other drugs contained hydrocodone and aceteminophen while Percocet et al contained oxycodone and acetimonophen. I still don’t really know what the difference is between hydrocodone and oxycodone. Can you be more specific. Can you tell us about side effects?

  3. A note concerning Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. Both are derived from Thebaine which if taken will induce seizures. This may have something to do with people who cannot sleep when taking either of these medications.

    While the pain relief from Codeine and Hydrocodone are the result of the body metabolizing them into Morphine and Hydromorphone metabolites this is not the case for Oxycodone.

    Hydrocodone and Codeine care called prodrugs and this is for the reason I describe above.

    I spoke with a few experts in pain mangement and pharmacology. I learned that the primary action of Oxycodone is not its conversion to Oxymorphone. It is defined as a a pure mu agonist (refering to the mu opiate receptors in the brain), and not a prodrug.

    It is the direct action of Oxycodone that provides pain relief and this is why a person in severe pain and tolerant to opiates will get increased pain relief going from a single dose of Oxycodone up to baout 30 mg.

    Hydrocodone has a ceiling effect at 10 mg and does not provide significantly more pain relief at 20 or 30 mg. It does have unpleasent side effects when 15 or more milligrams is taken.

    The same thing is true with Codeine. The ceiling effect occurs at 60 mg while there is no benefit at higher doses.

    Sadly, many Doctors are under the belief that Hydrocodone is similar to Oxycodone. This is not true and is explained above.

    If Hydrocodone exhibited effects similar to Oxycodone then the DEA attempt to place all Hydrocodone products into Schedule II would have happened. They try very hard, but it is the the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that must recommend any rescheduling.

    Considering the above pharmacological evidence the HHS is not going to allow the DEA to place all Hydrocodone containg products int Schedule II.

    A final point. The Controlled Substance Act was signed into law by former President Nixon in 1970. If one reads it and sees how it’s original intent was to address the drug use of the 1960′s
    The DEA was never meant to obtain powers that conflict with the states rights to regulate the practice of mdedicine.

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