Difference between OxyContin and Percocet

Updated on February 15, 2018

OxyContin and Percocet are brand names for pain relievers that contain oxycodone, which is an opioid drug. This article explains the differences between these regulated, prescription-only drugs.



OxyContin is a pain medication brand which contains the opioid drug oxycodone. Morphine, heroin, and methadone are examples of opioid drugs. It is administered for 24-hour relief of moderate to severe pain. This long-lasting effect makes OxyContin effective for patients who do not require frequent doses of pain medication in a day.

OxyContin must be taken only as prescribed by a health professional. This medication is not to be taken in large amounts or longer than what was prescribed. As with any pain medication that contains opioid as an active ingredient, OxyContin is highly addictive and can cause death in the event of an overdose.

The extended-release tablet is not to be chewed or broken as doing so can cause what could be a fatal dose. It must be swallowed whole to allow the oxycodone a slow release. This is why OxyContin can relieve pain longer. Pregnant women are strongly advised not to take OxyContin as it can make the baby dependent on the drug. It can also be ingested through the milk of the mother.


Percocet is pain reliever brand that contains some parts of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, a non-opioid drug, is a less powerful pain medication that can amplify the pain relieving effects of oxycodone. The 5-milligram oxycodone content makes Percocet a narcotic pain medication. Percocet is administered for the relief of moderate to acute pain, or as prescribed by a doctor.

It is strongly advised to use Percocet as recommended. Overdosing on acetaminophen can cause damage to the liver or even death. It is also known to cause difficulty in breathing among adults and persons suffering from a severe and debilitating illness or malnutrition. In addition to being highly addictive (even in regular doses), the oxycodone in Percocet can cause dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting, and lightheadedness. If one suffers mood changes, stomach problems, loss of weight and/or appetite, and unusual tiredness, the attending physician must be informed right away. Percocet can cause birth defects if taken during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Prolonged use or high doses prior to the delivery date may increase the risk of harm to the unborn child. Women must inform their doctors if they’re pregnant or are planning to get pregnant prior to taking Percocet.

OxyContin vs Percocet

So what’s the difference between OxyContin and Percocet? Despite the commonality of both being narcotic pain medications, these regulated opioids have a few important differences. OxyContin contains pure oxycodone, an opioid drug and has a 24-hour pain relieving effect. Percocet contains 5 milligrams of oxycodone and some acetaminophen. It can relieve pain for about 5 hours. As OxyContin is pure oxycodone, it is not meant to be chewed. Its oxycodone content is coated to ensure the prolonged effect of the drug. Percocet, on the other hand, does not have an extend-release feature, so it can be chewed. Also, the acetaminophen in Percocet can help in the relief of fevers that accompany pain.

Comparison Chart

Contains 100% oxycodoneContains 5 mg of oxycodone
More potent, has a 24-hour effectLess potent, has a 5-hour effect
Extended-releaseHas acetaminophen for fever relief
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