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What Is the Difference Between Oxycodone & OxyContin?

By Carolyn Robbins ; Updated August 14, 2017

An aspirin will ease a headache or sore muscles, but some pain requires stronger medication. Narcotics, including oxycodone and OxyContin, are prescribed to alleviate very severe pain, such as might follow surgery, a car crash or some other traumatic injury. While narcotics are very effective, they are also highly addictive. The main difference between oxycodone and OxyContin is that oxycodone is a generic drug rather than a brand name. Neither oxycodone or OxyContin should be taken for more than three to four months, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Checking the Price Tag

Generics are not patented and are generally less expensive than brand-name drugs. Generic drugs are almost identical to brand-name pharmaceuticals in terms of dose, safety, strength and efficacy. In other words, your doctor could prescribe oxycodone or OxyContin and they would serve the same purpose in most cases.

Mix and Match

Oxycodone is often mixed with other analgesics, including acetominophen and asprin, to make short-acting pain medications. There are up to 50 different drugs that include oxycodone as an active ingredient, according to Purdue Pharma News and Media. Common oxycodone derivatives include Percocet, Roxicodone and Tylox. OxyContin and generic oxycodone without added medications are intended for round-the-clock pain relief and are not taken as needed.

Prescription Frequency

Of all the prescriptions written for oxycodone between 2004 and 2009, less than 18 percent were for OxyContin. The number dropped to less than 12 percent in 2010, according to Purdue Pharma News and Media. Generic oxycodone may be prescribed more frequently because it is a less expensive than OxyContin.

Drug Warnings

Both oxycodone and OxyContin contain the same opioid analgesic, and both can be habit-forming and addictive. You should take your medicine exactly as instructed by your physician, as an overdose can cause serious health problems and may be lethal. Talk to your physician if you find yourself struggling to stay with the prescribed dose. Your doctor may be able to suggest non-narcotic ways to manage pain.

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