Percocet Vs. Norco: What Are Percocet Vs. Norco Similarities and Differences?

Last Updated: June 24, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Percocet vs. Norco are both opioid drugs used to relieve moderate to severe pain. They are also commonly prescribed for the relief of chronic pain caused by many diseases, such as arthritis and pain due to cancer. Although these drugs have more similarities than differences, they are made up of different active ingredients. Ingredients in Percocet are Oxycodone and acetaminophen. This combination has been regarded as one of the strongest formulations when it comes to pain relievers. Norco also contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone, which is also an opioid. Find out is Percocet stronger than Norco? What are Percocet vs. Norco similarities and differences?

What Percocet and Norco Have in Сommon?

Except both of the drugs are opioids, which are recognized as the most potent pain relievers, both containing acetaminophen, Norco vs. Percocet, share the following key characteristics:

  • Both drugs are considered powerful painkillers and are available only with a prescription.
  • Both are brand names that have generic counterparts.
  • Both are used as painkillers for the relief of short-term pain usually associated with post-surgery, as well as for managing pain due to chronic conditions.
  • Percocet vs. Norco are both considered opioid drugs.
  • Both painkillers are classified as Schedule II drugs, a drug category associated with high risk for drug misuse and addiction.
  • Percocet starts to act within 30 up to 60 minutes from the time of oral administration such as Norco, and stay in effect from four up to six hours thereafter.
  • Both drugs may cause similar side effects, which may include itching, sluggishness, dry mouth, dizziness,  nausea, and impairment of motor skills.
  • Percocet pregnancy category is C, and Norco has the same. It means that both drugs generally lack sufficient dearth of studies to demonstrate the safety of the intake during pregnancy.
  • Drinking alcohol on Percocet or Norco can cause extreme dizziness and vomiting. It can also cause heart rate and breathing to become severely slow, which can lead to coma or even death. Combining these drugs with alcohol can lead to liver damage.

Differences Between Percocet and Norco

Other than each containing two different components, the following highlight Percocet vs. Norco key differences:


Branded Percocet strengths include 2.5/325 mg, 5/325 mg, 7.5/325 mg, 10/325, and 10/650. On the other hand, Norco is only available in three dosage forms, which are 5/325 mg, 7.5/325 mg, and 10/325 mg.


Both Norco and Percocet pills are significantly more expensive than over-the-counter pain relievers. Percocet cost is higher compared to Norco. For Percocet 10/325, it can cost as low as $21 per tablet, whereas the lowest price for the other drug is approximately $5 per pill. The effect of both drugs may be derived by obtaining their respective inexpensive generic counterparts. Oxycodone hydrochloride is an alternative to Percocet, while generic drugs falling under Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen are viable alternatives for branded ones.

Side Effects

Both drugs are associated with the same common side effects. Among the most critical differences in Norco vs. Percocet side effect is that Norco is more likely to cause constipation and other problems related to the stomach and digestion, as well as difficulty breathing, whereas Percocet is more likely to cause lack of energy. Percocet headache is likely, whereas the use of Norco is not associated with a headache.

Percocet vs. Norco
Side Effect Percocet Norco
Constipation Less Likely More Likely
Indigestion Less Likely More Likely
Difficulty Breathing Less Likely More Likely
Fatigue and Lack of Energy More Likely Less Likely
A headache More Likely Less Likely

Percocet vs. Norco: Which is More Potent?

In general, combining either Hydrocodone or Oxycodone with another painkiller like acetaminophen produces better results compared to using a pure form of these opioids only. Between Hydrocodone vs. Percocet, the last is stronger. In the same way, when Norco vs. Oxycodone results are compared, Norco will deliver a stronger effect. In comparison between Oxycodone vs. Percocet, the last one provides a stronger effect. The concentration levels of both opioids also influence drug potency.
Another drug that is close to the compared painkillers is Vicodin. As the primary difference between Percocet and Vicodin, and Norco is, that Vicodin is made with a lower concentration of hydrocodone compared to Norco, and is less stronger than other.

Which One is Better For Pain Relief?

Percocet is generally regarded as the stronger drug in comparison to Norco. Experts say that both painkillers have comparable potency due to their opioid components.

Norco Vs. Percocet: Which One Stronger?

The study published on NCBI was sought to find out if either Oxycodone or Hydrocodone was more potent for the relief of acute pain related to fractures, the researchers observed that both active ingredients in Percocet and Norco, respectively, showed the same level of potency in relieving pain associated with fractures.
Based on another study conducted among subjects without any known dependency or addiction to prescription drugs, the researchers found that, at equal doses, the combination of Oxycodone with acetaminophen produced 1.5 times more potency than hydroquinone combined with acetaminophen.

What is the Difference Between the Painkillers Mechanism Of Pain Relief?

None. Both drugs act on the central nervous system to affect the usual mechanism for transmitting pain signals to the brain. As a result, the brain perceives pain differently. Relief is delivered, but as reported by users, pain relief also comes with a feeling of euphoria, which is one of the main reasons that make these drugs highly addictive.

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Published on: November 1st, 2018

Updated on: June 24th, 2020

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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