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Hydrocodone bitartrate is a narcotic active ingredient found in a number of prescription pain medications and cough suppressants. There are two different forms of this narcotic; hydrocodone bitartrate is the most common form used in the majority of products. Most products will simply use the name "hydrocodone" because it is shorter and can easily fit on the label of a prescription bottle.

An Overview of Hydrocodone Bitartrate

Hydrocodone bitartrate is a narcotic ingredient used in many different prescription pain and cough medications, such as Lortab®, Vicodin®, and many others. Hydrocodone comes in two forms, hydrocodone bitartrate (the most common form used in most products) and hydrocodone polistirex (a long-acting form used in Tussionex® and Tussicaps® cough medications).
The "bitartrate" part of hydrocodone bitartrate is not the active part of the compound; it is just the chemical "salt." A chemical salt is the product of a chemical reaction of an acid and a base. Many medications are produced in "salt" form to improve various characteristics, most commonly solubility. For instance, a medication may be very insoluble in water (making it difficult to absorb); making it into a salt form may greatly increase its water solubility.
You may wonder why some products refer to the term "hydrocodone bitartrate" while others simply use the term "hydrocodone." This is usually done simply to shorten the name and is not usually a problem, since bitartrate is not the active component of the medication. Your pharmacy may or may not include the bitartrate on your prescription label; most do not, in order to save space.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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