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Percocet vs. Vicodin, is there a difference? If so, what is the difference? Which is more effective? The answer to these questions will vary based on several factors. In order to answer those questions, though, you need to know a bit about each drug first.

Percocet

Percocet is an opioid analgesic and anilide analgesic. It is a combination of the drugs oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Uses

This drug is indicated for short-term management of moderate to severe pain.

Contraindications

  • Hypersensitivity to oxycodone
  • Hypersensitivity to acetaminophen
  • Sensitivity to opioids
  • Significant respiratory depression 
  • People advised not to use opioids because of an existing medical problem
  • May cause hepatotoxicity (liver failure) in those with chronic alcoholism

Vicodin

Like Percocet, Vicodin is an opioid analgesic and anilide analgesic. It is a combination of the drugs hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the DEA.

Uses

Vicodin is for the treatment of moderate to severe pain.

Contraindications

  • Hypersensitivity to hydrocodone
  • Hypersensitivity to acetaminophen
  • Sensitivity to opioids
  • Significant respiratory depression 
  • People advised not to use opioids because of an existing medical problem
  • May cause hepatotoxicity (liver failure) in those with chronic alcoholism

Percocet vs. Vicodin – What is the Difference?

Both drugs are for the treatment of moderate to severe pain and have a high potential for addiction and abuse. While they both contain acetaminophen, they differ in that they both contain a different opioid: Percocet contains oxycodone and Vicodin contains hydrocodone.

Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are some of the most widely abused opioids in the United States, with both unfortunately having high rates of opioid-related deaths. Oxycodone was the leader in drug overdose deaths in the United States in both 2010 and 2011. While both oxycodone and hydrocodone were both among the top 10 drugs resulting in drug overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014, oxycodone resulted in more deaths each year. As such, while they both have the potential for abuse, oxycodone consistently results in greater drug-related overdose deaths in the United States.

Which drug will work best for a specific patient will depend on several factors, including their medical history, history of potential substance abuse and addiction, and more. It is therefore at the discretion of the patient’s medical provider to determine whether Vicodin or Percocet is the right choice for the patient’s pain management plan.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


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