Difference Between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

Difference Between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

What is the difference between hydrocodone and oxycodone? At first glance, it can be seen that both have “codone” at their ending. This signifies the common group of origination known as “opioids”. Opioids have a large clinical spectrum of use ranging from analgesia (pain management) to antidiarrheal control.

The drugs are made from natural sources (opium) or manufactured as semisynthetic compounds. If they are drugs then shouldn’t they be completely identical given that they are from the same group? Well, that’s technically not true. You see Opioids act on the opioid receptors in our brain. Now this function may be an agonist/stimulatory or antagonist/inhibitory, or it may be both/mixed. These two drugs have an agonistic function of moderate intensity.

Then, whats the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone you ask? Well, you see, if two drugs have similar actions, it is said that both share identical pharmacodynamics. The main distinction lies between how the body metabolizes each, this is known as pharmacokinetics, and this is what we will be looking into.

Definition of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is a semisynthetic analog of morphine. It may be administered via an oral route. It is described as being 8-10 times more potent than morphine itself.  It has an even stronger form available, which is known as “hydromorphone”. That, too is taken orally. Hydrocodone is frequently given in combination with acetaminophen (Panadol) for the management of moderate to severe pain.

It is preferred in patients with renal failure as it undergoes breakdown in the liver. This is what we meant when we were talking about pharmacodynamics. This is a significant difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone. It is broken down by the CYP450 2D6 enzyme complex, and its metabolism is subject to drug-drug interactions.

Definition of Oxycodone

Oxycodone, too is a semisynthetic analog of morphine. It too, is orally administered. It is described as being 2 times as potent as oral morphine. It too is given in formulation with acetaminophen for management of moderate to severe pain. I know right now there doesn’t seem to be any significant difference between hydrocodone and oxycodone. 

But if we consider the pharmacokinetics, we see that this drug is metabolized in the liver as well as in the kidneys. It has two available formulations; extended-release and immediate-acting. Also, it does not have any drug-drug interactions

Hydrocodone vs Oxycodone Comparison Table

Basis of ComparisonHydrocodone Oxycodone
Function Pain management Pain management
Available formulations for pain managemnt   One Two
Metabolized in Liver only Liver and kidney
Metabolism subject to drug-drug interactions   Yes No

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Hydrocodone vs Oxycodone

We hope this discussion clarifies any remaining ambiguity regarding what is the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone. Both drugs have similar uses. What sets them apart is their interactions within the body.

In clinical setting, patients may present with a wide array of complications therefore, having drugs of similar actions but different interactions is a must. This eliminates the incidence of contraindications and allows for successful therapeutic management of patients.