Is oxycodone the same as OxyContin?

Yes. And no. The brand name drug OxyContin contains oxycodone. But the action times of the two analgesic medications in IR and ER forms are different. And so are the prices. We explore more on similarities and differences between oxycodone and OxyContin here.

minute read

Yes.  And no.

Oxycodone is a generic chemical opioid and is the active ingredient in OxyContin.  And OxyContin is a brand name drug that contains oxycodone.  The addictiveness of OxyContin and oxycodone are generally the same.  So how is oxycodone different than OxyContin?

Here we explore the principle of time release in pain medications, generic versus brand name considerations , pain relief efficiency and give you practical information about similarities and differences between oxycodone and OxyContin below.

Oxycodone and OxyContin actions – what do they do?

Oxycodone is the main ingredient in OxyContin.  Oxycodone is a very powerful opioid drug which is used as a pain reliever. Oxycodone acts by attaching to a specific “receptor” in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. After taking oxycodone, your perception of pain is different, and you may possibly feel euphoric, or an extreme sense of well-being.  Oxycodone creates the OxyContin euphoric feeling that usually gets people addicted to oxycodone and OxyContin.

Immediate vs. extended release formulas

1. OxyContin is a extended, controlled release drug.

2. Straight, generic oxycodone is available in either immediate release or extended release formulations.

Immediate release oxycodone – Short acting or immediate release (IR) opioids have a rapid onset but short lived therapeutic effect. Opioids in IR form typically start working 15–30 minutes after administration, with peak analgesic effect within 1–2 hours and active pain relief for about 4 hours. Immediate release medications can treat acute pain that is anticipated to last only a few days and are taken every few hours, or during a trial period to test response and tolerance to opioid therapy in people who are considering extended release opioids for chronic pain.

Extended release oxycodone – Extended release (ER) opioids medications are usually prescribed for people who want to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. ER opioids have a more lasting therapeutic effect and can be taken less frequently than IR opioids. These medications are also called sustained release (SR), controlled release (CR) or long acting opioids.

Pain relief efficiency

In terms of analgesic efficacy, extended release versions oxycodone such as OxyContin offer no advantages over immediate release (IR) formulas. In fact, extended release oxycodone formulas like OxyContin have been found to be inferior to a combination of IR oxycodone plus acetaminophen for certain types of pain. The main clinical advantage of the ER over the IR oxycodone versions is less frequent dosing.

Brand vs. generic

Many people aren’t aware that opioid drugs like OxyContin are available in generic form as extended release oxycodone. Confusion is typical, since the brand and generic names are hard to keep straight and doctors can tend to “upsell” you on a brand name opioid pain reliever. But oxycodone is available as a generic extended release medicine and is less expensive and just as effective as brand name OxyContin.

In fact, there is no reason to take the brand-name version of extended release oxycodone, or any opioid at all. But name recognition of opioids like OxyContin is well known and causes some people to request brand name drugs when looking for a strong pain reliever.

Addiction liability

Oxycodone in either immediate release or extended release form is extremely habit forming. In fact, tolerance and physical dependence are expected outcomes of regular treatment with oxycodone. While prescription pain pills may be helpful when used properly, taking oxycodone without a doctor’s approval can be highly addictive and dangerous.

OxyContin has been reformulated to be 100% extended release to help discourage misuse and abuse of the medication. The idea was to prevent OxyContin from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved to release more medication. This new formulation may prevent tampering, and can likely result in less abuse by snorting or injection. But OxyContin can still be abused or misused by simply taking larger doses than recommended.

How to treat OxyContin addiction?  Either with long term residential treatment or with medications.

Questions about oxycodone or OxyContin use

Do you have any other questions about using oxycodone or OxyContin? Do you think that you may have a problem with either of these pain medications? We invite your questions, comments and feedback below. We answer all legitimate concerns personally and promptly.

Reference sources: FDA guide to safe use of pain medicine
FDA – OxyContin Q & A
FDA New Release – FDA Approves New Formulation for OxyContin
Consumer Reports Best Buys for Opioid Drugs
APCA Consumer Guide to Pain Medication and Treatments
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: Oxycodone, Protect Your Teens
VA Criteria for Use of Controlled-release Oxycodone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?