When it comes to choosing the right pain medication to manage severe pain while minimizing side effects, making the right choice can be a guessing game for both you and your doctor, especially when the source of the pain is difficult to identify. However, for the management of moderate to severe short-term pain, such as pain after surgery or injury, both Vicodin and Percocet are usually effective. They have similar side effects that include nausea, respiratory depression, drowsiness and constipation. So what is the difference between Vicodin and Percocet, two of the most common pain-relieving medications?
Both of these medications contain acetaminophen, more commonly known by its brand name Tylenol. Acetaminophen is a mild anti-inflammatory medication and also a pain reliever. However, Vicodin contains hydrocodone while Percocet contains oxycodone. Both of these drugs are opioids or narcotics, but they do differ slightly:
While both of these drugs contain opioids, Percocet is classified as a schedule II substance while Vicodin is schedule III. This means Percocet is a more highly controlled substance. The difference between these, other than the legal consequences of misuse, is that schedule II substances have a higher potential for abuse. Abuse of schedule II substances may lead to severe physiological and psychological dependencies while abuse of schedule III substances may cause moderate to low physical dependence and high psychological dependence.
While both of these drugs are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, many people argue that Percocet or oxycodone is stronger than hydrocodone or Vicodin. However, the exact level of efficacy of these pain killers is difficult to determine in studies, as groups of participating patients must be given the same doses to treat the exact same type of pain. One study done on patients with fractures indicated that the medications were equally effective.
Percocet has a slightly longer half-life than Vicodin, meaning it takes longer to clear the body’s system. One to two Vicodin pills may be taken every four hours as needed, but Percocet can only be taken every six hours.
Percocet is much more expensive than Vicodin. Percocet can cost over $1000 for a month’s supply if you need to take four pills per day. Three pills per day can still cost around $800. Vicodin costs around $150-$200 for a month’s supply. The good news is, both of these medications are available as generics. Generic Percocet is substantially cheaper than its brand-name counterpart, costing as little as $80 for a month’s supply. For more information about pain relief medications, visit our Pain Condition Page. To save on all of the medications mentioned in this article, search our site for available coupons.