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What is the Difference Between Oxycodone and OxyContin®?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Oxycodone and OxyContin® are very closely related; OxyContine® is a brand name formulation of the generic oxycodone. Oxycodone is a drug which is used as an analgesia in patients who require pain management. These drugs can be prescribed to patients with chronic pain conditions or moderate to severe pain caused by illness, such as pain associated with some types of cancers. Due to concerns about the potential for abuse, access to these drugs is restricted in some areas.

The generic drug oxycodone was first synthesized by German chemists in 1916. They were looking for a replacement for heroin, a drug which had been used for pain management but which had some significant drawbacks. Developing a semi-synthetic opioid improved options for pain management as well as the safety of drug administration, as oxycodone is much safer than heroin.

Purdue Pharma applied for Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of OxyContin® in the 1990s, and the drug was released for sale in 1996. OxyContin® is a formulation of oxycodone hydrochloride, also known as oxycodone HCI. Oxycodone and OxyContin® have the same active ingredient, and OxyContin® is formulated as a time release medication.

The formulation of OxyContin® is designed to work for 12 hours. There are numerous dosages available which allow patients to scale up or down as they develop tolerance to the narcotic or as they are weaning off it. One important thing to be aware of with OxyContin® is that breaking or grinding the pills disrupts the time release coating, allowing the drug to enter the system all at once. This can be dangerous, even in people who have developed a tolerance to the medication.

Oxycodone and OxyContin® are addictive drugs and often result in dependency over a period of prolonged use. As a patient uses the drug, higher doses will be required for the same effect. Abruptly stopping the use of the drug can cause withdrawal symptoms and extreme discomfort. Doctors who prescribe oxycodone and OxyContin® should supervise their patients carefully to make sure that they are receiving an appropriate dosage and to adjust the dose and course of treatment as needed.

Patients who use oxycodone and OxyContin® may take other drugs for breakthrough pain. All pain management drugs should be kept in a controlled area beyond the reach of children and pets. These medications can be dangerous due to their depressive effects on the immune system.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon314539 — On Jan 18, 2013

If you take a pain med and it's the alternative to a scalpel cutting through nerves that may even kill you, what's the worry about becoming addicted if the medicines are working perfectly together?

In my case, my doctor and I have found this in opiates with no aspirin based medications. He is a very smart man. He befriended me after a jerk called my pain management doctor made accusations I was selling morphine to little children in a "farming community" setting an the clinic dumped me.

It destroyed my life and anyone who knows me, knows I had some sort of breakdown. It ruined our lives, but hopefully justice will prevail. I'd heard of this same sort of slander before, but when it happens to you God bless, because there's no tomorrow ever. The jerk belongs in prison.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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