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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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  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!

    • can’t you tell the author has eaten several pills trying to judge the diference?….after about 6 pills the author has blurred vision

    • Really? Grammar police just puts it out there that you are a jerk! Nobody finds you cute or intelligent.

      • @ Lynn who said, “Grammar police just puts it out there that you are a jerk! Nobody finds you cute or intelligent.”

        McReid is evidently a decent, helpful person. Pointing out the incorrect use of “in lieu of”, cleared up a very confusing statement. Used incorrectly as it was (It must have been removed from the original article; I can’t find it), the sentence meant you could only purchase the drug oxycodone in place of a doctor’s prescription. That makes no sense at all.

        Your over-the-top reaction to someone pointing this out is rather frightening. Best thing you could do for your future is to start reading books. Go to a real brick & mortar bookstore, browse best-sellers you see that grab your attention & indulge in one or a bunch. Read a little every night. Before you know it, your own vocabulary and use of words will improve.

    • It also means in place of. So… No calls for the drug to be filled refilled in place of a written Doctors prescription,will be allowed to obtain the medication.

    • Stay n skool fokes! lern 2 spel! Grammer and spelimg help u go far!

      When did it become fashionable to defend ignorance? Just saying….I wouldn’t hire you if I saw you misspelled common words and had poor grammar.

      Up vote for the grammar nazi 🙂

    • Who are you? Michael Bloomberg?

  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.

    • There’s no ceiling dose on hydrocodone , i was taking 80mg a dose (zohydro ir, with no apap)in a methadone detox, it’s not commonly prescribed except for private drs and rehabs but sometimes asking a real addict who has a education gets the best results. Thanks

    • EP61……. Perfect…..!!!
      Thank You….!!!

  4. Can oxy and hydrocodon be taken alternately

  5. Many have stated that hydrocodone is a scheduled 3 drug, and oxycodone is a class 2. This was true maybe a year or so ago, but the FDA has changed this scheduling. Both hydrocodone with Tylenol preparations (Lortab, Vicodin, etc.) and oxycodone/Tylenol (Percocet) are now schedule 2 drugs. Neither, in the US can be phoned or faxed in. A new prescription must be written and walked in.

  6. I have been taking Percocet (generic)apap 7.5-325, and my mom takes (Norco 10-) so when I run out I will take some of hers, I have back pain and shoulder damage and also nerve damage from a gun shot in my left leg at point blank range. I had to get my refill on mine and they gave me a pee cup and I told them I had taken a Norco that morning and they got back with me and said it was hot showed the Norco and not my Percocet and there a chemical difference that would show that, and how long do these stay in your system.

  7. I seem to be allergic to hydrocodone but not oxycodone. Several combo products that have hydrocodone have given me hives and make me want to scratch my face off. The only oxycodone preparation I have had a problem with was generic oxycontin; name brand I didn’t have a problem with. I’m also allergic to codeine.

    My question is; are hydrocodone and oxycodone different enough chemically where I could be allergic to one and not the other. If not, I think that points to whatever binders are used in the process of making the pill.

    • Yes Dorothy. Oxycodone is made from thebaine, hydrocodone is made from codeine, there’s your problem. I just switched from hydrocodone 10/325 (4.5 per day) to oxycodone 7.5/325 (4.5 per day). I had some hydrocodone left over and my best results were with 2.5 hydrocodone and 2 oxycodone… over the day. However I’m worried about the oxycodone now that I’m taking a little more (it is more effective for now so I’m taking only what I absolutely need so I can hopefully keep it effective for me), but I’ve been nothing dark urine and I’ve had two “sort of” asthma attacks, not wheezing but tight cough. Coughed from late afternoon until about 3:00 AM last night. Taking Al Vogen generic.
      These days I’m hesitant to talk about more changes with doctor and definitely not going to change pharmacy. My pharmacy gives me no trouble but I have to take whatever generic they have… it’s getting tough.
      But hydrocodone being made from codeine would explain your trouble.

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