Vicodin vs Percocet

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For patients dealing with moderate to severe pain, certain drugs that alter the perception of pain in the central nervous system can provide much-needed relief. Vicodin and Percocet are two such drugs, frequently prescribed for pain management. Each of these medications functions by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, but they have different secondary ingredients that can also alleviate pain. Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone, a powerful opioid, and acetaminophen, a less potent pain reliever that boosts the effects of hydrocodone. Percocet, on the other hand, combines oxycodone, another potent opioid, with acetaminophen. Both of these drugs can effectively manage severe pain, but their different primary opioids may cause different side effects and interactions.

What is Vicodin?

Hydrocodone/paracetamol (the generic name for Vicodin) was the first opioid analgesic of its kind, marking a substantial advancement from previous pain relief medications. It was first approved by the FDA in 1982. Vicodin works by altering the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It is prescribed for the relief of severe pain. Vicodin has a significant influence on the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, with only minor effects on other neurotransmitters, which results in it having fewer side effects than other pain relief medications that have stronger effects on these other neurotransmitters.

On the other hand, Oxycodone/paracetamol (the generic name for Percocet) is another potent opioid analgesic used for severe pain management. It also works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. While both Vicodin and Percocet are effective in pain management, differences in their side effect profiles and potential for addiction may influence the choice of treatment.

What conditions is Vicodin approved to treat?

Vicodin is approved for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, including:

  • Acute postoperative pain
  • Chronic pain management
  • Cancer-related pain

Percocet, on the other hand, is also used for managing severe pain, including:

  • Postoperative pain management
  • Acute pain from injuries or accidents
  • Chronic pain associated with cancer or other serious illnesses

How does Vicodin help with these illnesses?

Vicodin manages pain by increasing the amount of opioid activity in the brain and spinal cord. It does this by binding to and activating opioid receptors, which results in a decrease in the perception of pain. Opioid receptors are proteins that are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. They play an important role in pain perception, reward, and addiction. It is thought that individuals with chronic or severe pain have a higher need for opioid activity to manage their pain. Therefore, by increasing opioid activity, Vicodin can limit the negative effects of pain and help patients manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is a brand name for the combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, two strong painkillers. Oxycodone is an opioid, meaning it works by changing the way your brain responds to pain. Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is a less potent pain reliever that enhances the effects of oxycodone. Percocet was first approved by the FDA in 1976. As Percocet is not a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), it does not reduce inflammation. Its lack of anti-inflammatory action means that its side-effect profile is also different to that of NSAIDs, in particular in that it is more likely to cause sedation, constipation, and addiction (common side effects of opioids such as Vicodin). The effects of oxycodone on the brain's response to pain can be beneficial for the treatment of severe pain, especially in patients who do not respond well to the “typical” NSAID pain relief drugs such as Vicodin.

What conditions is Percocet approved to treat?

Percocet is a powerful prescription pain medication that has been approved for the management of the following conditions:

  • Moderate to severe acute pain, such as that experienced after surgery or from an injury.
  • Pain that cannot be controlled by other, less potent pain medication. Its active ingredients, oxycodone and acetaminophen, work together to provide relief from severe pain and reduce fever, respectively.

How does Percocet help with these illnesses?

Percocet is a potent analgesic that functions by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain, thereby reducing the perception of pain. It contains oxycodone, an opioid, and acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever. The oxycodone component works by altering the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, while the acetaminophen can enhance the pain-relieving effects of oxycodone. Just like Vicodin, Percocet is effective in managing acute and chronic pain. However, it may be chosen over Vicodin when a patient needs a stronger pain relief or does not respond well to the hydrocodone component in Vicodin. The oxycodone in Percocet is generally considered more potent than the hydrocodone in Vicodin, making Percocet a preferred choice in more severe cases of pain. It's worth noting that both medications carry a risk of dependence and should be used under careful medical supervision.

How effective are both Vicodin and Percocet?

Both Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) and Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) are potent analgesics widely used for the management of moderate to severe pain, having been approved by the FDA in 1982 and 1976 respectively. As they both function as opioid agonists, their prescription is often determined by individual patient factors such as severity of pain and drug tolerance. The efficacy of Vicodin and Percocet was directly compared in a double-blind clinical trial conducted in 2005; both drugs demonstrated comparable effectiveness at managing postoperative pain with similar safety profiles.

A review compiled from multiple studies conducted over several years highlighted that Vicodin begins relieving pain within an hour of administration due to its rapid onset. Its side effect profile is less favorable when compared to other non-opioid analgesics due to common effects like drowsiness, constipation, nausea, etc., but it remains an important tool in acute pain management particularly where other medications have proven ineffective or unsuitable.

Meanwhile, a meta-analysis published in 2017 indicated that oxycodone seems more effective than placebo at alleviating chronic cancer-related pain and has similar efficacy levels when compared with other commonly prescribed opioids. Nonetheless, Percocet is typically considered alongside first-line treatment options based on the intensity of the patient's discomfort. A significant amount of research involves using Percocet alongside non-opioid analgesics for multi-modal pain relief strategies so data confirming its standalone efficacy is robust but it’s also widely acknowledged as part of combination therapy regimens for intense post-operative or cancer-related pains.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Vicodin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Vicodin typically range from 5-10 mg/300 mg to 10 mg/325 mg (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) every four to six hours as needed for pain. The total daily dosage should not exceed 6 tablets. For Percocet, the usual adult dosage is one or two tablets every six hours as needed for pain; each tablet contains oxycodone/acetaminophen 2.5mg-325mg up to 10mg-325mg. The maximum dose of Percocet should not exceed twelve tablets in a day due to the acetaminophen content. In both drugs, doses may be adjusted by your healthcare provider based on response and tolerance but should never exceed the recommended maximum limits.

At what dose is Percocet typically prescribed?

Percocet therapy typically begins with a dosage of 2.5-5 mg, taken every 6 hours as needed for pain control. The dose can then be adjusted to a maximum of 10 mg per administration, up to four times a day (40 mg/day in total), based on the patient's response and tolerance to treatment. This regimen might be evaluated if there is no significant improvement in pain management after some period of usage at lower dosages. However, it should be noted that due to its potential for addiction and abuse, Percocet should only be used under strict medical supervision and for short-term relief of acute pain.

What are the most common side effects for Vicodin?

Common side effects when taking Vicodin include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation
  • Euphoria (intense happiness) or dysphoria (general dissatisfaction with life)
  • Sedation or somnolence (sleepiness/drowsiness)
  • Decreased libido (sex drive)
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety or nervousness leading to insomnia

Percocet has similar but also some different side effects that can include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness/ drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Itching and skin rash
  • Weakness, fatigue, and general discomfort
  • Headaches
    Always consult your physician for advice about medication.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Vicodin?

While both Vicodin and Percocet are strong prescription pain relievers, there can be serious side effects to note. For Vicodin, the potential severe reactions include:

  • Signs of allergy such as hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Symptoms indicating liver issues like nausea, upper stomach pain, fatigue, loss of appetite and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • High serotonin levels leading to agitation, fever, sweating fast heart rate
  • Adrenal gland disorders - symptoms may include weight loss or weight gain

For Percocet on the other hand:

  • Allergic reactions could present with hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face,lips,tongue or throat.
  • Serious side effects might also include slowed breathing rates which could lead to fainting or coma
  • Liver problems might manifest with nausea,stomach pain (upper right area),tiredness ,loss of appetite,dark urine,yellowing skin/eyes(clay-colored stools).

Both drugs have a risk for addiction so if you notice unusual behavior including confusion,fear ,unusual thoughts and behavior ,depression,suicidal tendencies it is important you seek medical help immediately .

What are the most common side effects for Percocet?

Percocet, a powerful opioid pain reliever, can cause a variety of side effects. This may include:

  • Dry mouth and sore throat
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting, sometimes accompanied by stomach pain or loss of appetite
  • Constipation is another common gastrointestinal side effect to be aware of.
  • Some people experience sleep problems such as insomnia when taking Percocet.
  • You may experience sweating or feel anxious and nervous.
  • In some cases, you could have tremors or an unusually fast heartbeat.
  • There are also mental effects like confusion and agitation that some patients report.
  • A skin rash might appear in rare instances,
  • Weight fluctuations might occur due to changes in appetite or metabolism, And while not common, there might be increased urination. As with many medications, headaches and dizziness can occur. Additionally, Muscle or joint pain could potentially intensify if the medication wears off too quickly. Always consult your doctor before starting any new medication regimen.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Percocet?

When using Percocet, it is crucial to be aware of potential side effects that may indicate more serious issues. Some of these include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Severe skin reaction including fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling
  • Low cortisol levels which could cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite dizziness or worsening tiredness
  • Addiction symptoms like overuse despite harmful consequences and neglecting responsibilities at work or home
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior such as anxiety, agitation and paranoia
  • Problems with vision ranging from blurred vision to tunnel vision
  • Symptoms resembling serotonin syndrome such as agitation hallucinations fever sweating shivering fast heart rate muscle stiffness twitching loss of coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea. If any of these occur while taking Percocet seek immediate medical attention.

Contraindications for Vicodin and Percocet?

Both Vicodin and Percocet, along with most other opioid medications, may increase symptoms of depression in some individuals. If you notice your mood worsening or an uptick in suicidal thoughts while on these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Vicodin and Percocet cannot be taken if you are using, or have been using monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Always inform your physician about any medication you're currently taking; MAOIs will require a period of about two weeks to clear from the system before being replaced by opioids like Vicodin or Percocet to prevent potentially dangerous interactions.

How much do Vicodin and Percocet cost?

For the brand-name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 30 tablets of Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen, 5 mg/300 mg) averages around $70-$90, which works out to roughly $2.33–$3/day.
  • The cost of Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen, 5mg/325 mg), is somewhat higher: a package with 20 tablets costs approximately $22-$26 which equates to about $1.10–$1.30 per day.

Therefore, if you are prescribed either drug at their standard dosages, Percocet tends to be less expensive on a per-day basis. However, remember that cost should not be the primary consideration in determining which pain reliever is right for you.

In terms of generic versions:

  • Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen can range from as low as $0.14 up to about $0.60 per tablet depending on your location and dosage amount.
  • Oxycodone/Acetaminophen's price varies widely depending upon strength and quantity but generally falls within the range of around $0.18 - $0.85 per tablet.

Both medications provide effective relief from moderate-to-severe pain; consult your healthcare provider for advice suited to your specific circumstances and needs.

Popularity of Vicodin and Percocet

Vicodin and Percocet are two powerful prescription opioids used to manage moderate to severe pain.

In the generic form as well as brand names such as Vicodin, hydrocodone/acetaminophen was estimated to have been prescribed to about 83 million people in the US in 2020. It accounted for a significant portion of opioid prescriptions overall. The prevalence of Vicodin has been generally decreasing since 2012 due to increased awareness of its potential for misuse and addiction.

Oxycodone/acetaminophen, including brand versions such as Percocet, was prescribed to approximately 56 million people in the USA in 2020. In contrast with Vicodin, it represents a smaller but still substantial portion of total opioid prescriptions within the country. Similar to Vicodin though, there's been a steady decrease over recent years amid concerns about dependency risks associated with these potent analgesics.


Both Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) and Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) are widely used prescription opioid analgesics. They have been extensively studied and found to be more effective than placebo for acute and chronic pain management. Occasionally, these drugs may be utilized in combination under the strict supervision of a physician due to their similar action mechanisms but different potency levels. Both medicines work by blocking pain signals from reaching your brain.

Vicodin is often a first-line option for moderate pain management, while Percocet, being stronger, is typically reserved for severe or unresponsive cases that do not respond well to milder opioids like hydrocodone or when it's necessary to avoid certain side-effects such as stomach irritation caused by non-opioid analgesics.

Both Vicodin and Percocet are available in generic form which can considerably cut costs especially for patients who must pay out of pocket. However, it should be noted that they may require an adjustment period where effects might not be immediately noticeable.

The side effect profiles are somewhat similar between the two drugs; both can cause constipation, nausea, drowsiness among others. But oxycodone in Percocet has slightly higher risk of causing respiratory depression compared to hydrocodone in Vicodin if taken at high doses or combined with other CNS depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Due to their addictive properties, patients must closely monitor their usage patterns when starting treatment and seek medical help immediately if they suspect dependency developing.