Oxycodone and Percocet are often confused for the same medication. This is understandable as both are opioid pain medications and both have been in the news a lot due to the opioid epidemic.
Percocet is a brand name for a drug that contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen — another pain medication more commonly known by its brand name, Tylenol.
Any drug that contains oxycodone, including Percocet, has a potential for abuse. Both oxycodone and Percocet are considered highly addictive. The key differences between them are:
Oxycodone is a derivative of opium and sold under different brand names, including OxyContin.
Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen.
Oxycodone and Percocet are both classified as narcotic analgesics.
What is oxycodone and what is Percocet?
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate that is made by modifying thebaine, an organic compound in opium.
Oxycodone is available in different forms. This includes:
immediate-release tablets and capsules (Oxaydo, Roxicodone, Roxybond), which are released into the bloodstream right away
extended-release tablets and capsules (OxyContin), which are released into the bloodstream gradually
oral solution, which is used for managing pain in people who cannot swallow tablets, and is often administered via a gastric tube
Oxycodone acts on your central nervous system (CNS) to block the feeling of pain. Percocet does this as well, but offers a second mode of pain relief from the acetaminophen, which is a non-opiate analgesic that also relieves fever.
Oxycodone uses vs. Percocet uses
Oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The extended-release form provides relief of ongoing pain, such as pain associated with cancer.
Percocet is also used to treat moderate to severe pain, but can also be prescribed for conditions associated with fever. It can also be used to treat breakthrough pain when a long-acting pain drug doesn’t provide enough relief.
Percocet is not recommended for long-term use because acetaminophen has been found to cause serious liver damage.
Dosing depends on your need and age, the form of the drug, and whether the drug is immediate-release or extended-release. Both should be taken only as directed by a medical professional.
Oxycodone effectiveness vs. Percocet effectiveness
Both of these medications have been shown to be effective in providing pain relief. There is some evidenceTrusted Source that oxycodone in combination with other analgesics, including acetaminophen, may provide more pain relief and fewer side effects.
Oxycodone immediate-release and Percocet begin working within 15 to 30 minutes of taking them, reach their peak effect within 1 hour, and last for 3 to 6 hours.
Oxycodone extended-release tablets are longer-acting. They start to relieve pain within 2 to 4 hours of taking them, and steadily release the oxycodone for about 12 hours.
Both medications can stop providing effective pain relief when taken long-term. This is called tolerance.
When you begin to develop a tolerance to a drug, you need higher doses to get pain relief. This is normal with long-term opiate use.
How quickly a person develops a tolerance varies. Your body will begin to adapt to the medication in as little as one week of taking regular doses.
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