Back Pain Home > Difference Between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are both prescription narcotic medications that are used for relieving pain. They have similar side effects, drug interactions, and warnings. However, there is a difference between hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Oxycodone is generally considered to be more potent than hydrocodone (although some people may find hydrocodone to work better, due to individual differences in how people react to medications). Oxycodone is available as a single-ingredient medication or in combination with other active ingredients, while hydrocodone only comes in combination products.
All hydrocodone medications are Schedule III controlled substances, while oxycodone medications are all Schedule II controlled substances. This suggests that oxycodone medications have a higher abuse potential, compared with hydrocodone. It also means that the prescribing rules are different. For instance, prescriptions for hydrocodone combination medications can be phoned or faxed to a pharmacy and may have refills, while oxycodone prescriptions must be given to a pharmacy in the original "hard copy" and cannot have refills. This also means that healthcare providers are usually more hesitant to prescribe oxycodone, compared with hydrocodone.
(Click Hydrocodone Vs. Oxycodone to learn more about the difference between hydrocodone and oxycodone and to find out the ways in which the two drugs are similar.)
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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