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Oxycodone vs OxyContin - What's the difference?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 23, 2017.

Official Answer


Short answer

Oxycodone is a generic name of an opioid pain medication (also called a narcotic). Several different brands of oxycodone are available as immediate-release tablets or capsules; some are in combination with other pain-relieving agents such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. OxyContin is a brand name of an extended-release form of oxycodone that has been designed to release oxycodone over 12 hours.

See also: Compare Tool - Oxycodone vs OxyContin

Long answer

What does immediate-release mean and what immediate-release forms of Oxycodone are available?

When a product is deemed “immediate-release” it means that no deliberate effort has been made to modify the drug release rate. Most conventional drug products are immediate-release. Drug absorption and time to peak effect is relatively rapid for any immediate-release product. For oxycodone, studies have shown it takes an average of 1.8 hours for a single dose of oxycodone to reach its peak level in the blood. With repeated dosing, time to peak concentration reduces to about 1.3 hours.  Food may cause a delay in the time to peak concentration, but does not significantly affect overall amount absorbed. Oxycodone is usually given every four to six hours for pain relief.1

Oxycodone is available as an immediate-release tablet under the brand names of Oxaydo and Roxicodone. Oxycodone is also marketed in combination with:1,2

  • aspirin (Percodan, generic also available)
  • ibuprofen (generic available)
  • acetaminophen (Oxycet, Percocet, Roxicet, generic also available).

What does extended-release mean and what extended-release forms of oxycodone are available?

Products that have been designed to release their ingredients more slowly are usually accompanied by words or abbreviations such as ER (extended-release), CR (controlled-release) or SR (slow-release).

The design of an OxyContin tablet is such that the active drug, oxycodone, is released in two phases. The tablet utilizes the Acro-Contin drug delivery system, which essentially is composed of two main layers (a bit like the white of an egg and the yolk). The first layer allows for the initial rapid release of oxycodone from the surface of the tablet. The inner layer slowly releases the remainder of the oxycodone. Together, the two layers provide controlled delivery of oxycodone over 12 hours.3

Neither pH nor food affect the release of oxycodone from Oxycontin.3 Cutting, breaking, chewing, crushing or dissolving OxyContin impairs the controlled-release delivery mechanism and results in the rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of oxycodone.4

According to the manufacturers, the inner co-polymer wax matrix of OxyContin is not meant to dissolve. This intact “ghost pill” may be noticed in the stools or toilet after defecating. This is not of any concern since the active ingredient has already been released from the tablet.3

OxyContin is usually given every 12 hours for pain relief. A generic form of oxycodone extended-release is also available.2,4 Xtampza is the brand name for an extended-release, abuse-deterrent form of oxycodone currently seeking FDA approval.2

Oxycodone is not available in an extended-release form in combination with other ingredients (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen).



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