Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Pain relief medication has come from the use of shrubbery and hot water as analgesic techniques to synthesized medication and other surgical techniques. Out of the drugs used for analgesia, there is a stepwise pattern in the use of medications to avoid unnecessary prescription of drugs. This is called the WHO pain relief ladder, and at the top of its kind are the opiod medications and their derivatives, natural and synthetic. These opiates bind with the three types of receptors, which usually bind with endogenous endorphins. The type of opiate depending on the potency of the drug and kinetics are helpful in choosing a medication that is appropriate for the pain. In this case, we will look at two opiate based medications, oxycodone and hydrocodone, regarding the similarities and dissimilarities.


Oxycodone is a semi synthetic opiate drug, which is present as its original unaltered form or mixed with acetaminophen or NSAIDs. It can be present in intranasal, intravenous, subcutaneous, intramuscular, oral and rectal forms. This drug has a higher potency, and usually used in patients with severe pain or chronic pain, like that of cancer induced pain. It also has a very high chance of habit formation. As it is high up on the controlled substances list, there has to be a physical recall of the drug from stores in written form through a registered medical practitioner.


Hydrocodone is a semi synthetic opiate drug, which acts as an analgesic as well as a cough suppressant. It is also used in combination with other drugs like, acetaminophen and NSAIDs to have effective pain relief while at a lower dose. This drug is also used for chronic pain and pain due to cancers. It is also a habit forming narcotic, but a simple instruction by the doctor is enough for the medication to be retrieved from the pharmacy.


What is the difference between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone?

• Both hydrocodone(HC) and oxycodone(OC) are semi synthetic opiod drugs, which come in varied levels of preparations and can be combined with other less narcotic drugs.

• Both of them are used in pain relief and specifically in chronic pain management.

• The side effect profile is the same for both, but oxycodone has the greater potency out of the two (5 times greater) and is much more habit forming than HC.

• For OC, you must have a written prescription from a registered doctor and a special authorization might be required from the head of the institute, whereas HC does not need such authorization.

• HC is used as a cough suppressant, as well.



Thus, both these opiate-based medication are used for pain relief. But OC is more potent, used in a smaller dose, but has a higher habit forming capacity and is a highly controlled substance. OC can be bought in its generic formula, whereas it is rare to find HC in its generic formula due to the presence of other medications in the compounds found in the market.