Percocet vs. Oxycodone: Is Percocet The Same As Oxycodone?

Last Updated: October 26, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

People who are just getting into pain medications or do not know much about it are confused when it comes to the relationship between Percocet and Oxycodone. A lot of patients even think that Oxycodone is the same as Percocet. This uncertainty could cause medical errors, which could be dangerous to a patient. A recent study by the John Hopkins School of Medicine states that more than 250,000 people die every year because of medical errors in the United States. It further went on to state that medical error is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
When it comes to prescription drugs, it is important to be clear on medications a patient is taking because the consequences in some cases can be deadly. So, is Percocet the same as oxycodone, what are the differences between Percocet vs. oxycodone, their similarities, and which one is better for pain relief?

What Kind Of Drugs Are Percocet And Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a medication that is available only with a prescription from a Medical doctor. It is used for pain relief, while it has high chances of abuse. Percocet high can be achieved by making the brain flooded with dopamine. Once it happens, the user’s brain may become vulnerable to this drug, that can lead to abuse or dependency. Oxycodone is an opioid substance and an active ingredient in Percocet; it could be gotten with cold water extraction from Percocet.
Percocet is an opioid drug made of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen as active ingredients. This combination makes it very effective as pain relief comparing  Percocet vs.OxyContin. This is because each active ingredient tends to amplify the effects of each other. It is also a medication which is taken orally. This drug can also create a feeling of euphoric high, but various side effects are a possibility. After an intake, this drug  Percocet stays in the body system for up to three months.

Similarities Between Percocet and Oxycodone

When comparing painkillers, one has to note the similarities between both drugs before distinguishing them. Below, are there are some similarities between them:

Mechanism of Action

It takes almost the same time for Oxycodone and Percocet to work, and they act in almost the same way. They both make neurons inactive during the time phrase. They work mostly by reducing the perception and emotional response to pain. They tend to bind opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. Oxycodone’s (the active ingredient in the two drugs) principal therapeutic action is analgesia.

Side Effects

When it comes to Oxycodone vs. Percocet adverse effects, they are quite similar. Both drugs decrease in efficacy if used over a long period. Common side effects both drugs produce are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the body parts

Both drugs also carry severe side effects like:

  • Difficulty in respiration
  • Slow or fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Postural hypotension
  • In rare cases, coma

Sometimes both Oxycodone and Percocet can be used during breastfeeding, but such decision can be risky to a baby. Apart from the effects of difficulty to breath or feed, nursing mothers can pass down dependency on newbies.

Addiction and Abuse Potential

Both drugs are considered Schedule II drugs by the DEA. It means they have the potential for addiction and abuse. A research done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health(NSDUH) in 2014 states that 4.5 million of the adult population tend to abuse prescription painkillers, and the numbers are rising every day. Breaking the addiction to these drugs can become challenging, due to withdrawal symptoms, one may appear when tapering off or undergoing drug detoxification. Some withdrawal symptoms of addiction include:

  • Runny nose, exhausted man with strong neck ache
  • Restlessness,
  • Watery eyes,
  • Nausea,
  • Aches in the muscles,
  • Panic attack,
  • Anxiety,
  • Fevers, etc.


There is a strong proneness for an overdose in both Oxycodone and Percocet. When one is using these painkillers, it is really hard to know how much Percocet is too much and so is the case with Oxycodone too. Most signs or symptoms of overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Narrowing or widening of pupils
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Heavy, slow or stopped breathing
  • Heavy, slow or stopped heartbeat
  • Limp or weak muscles
  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Other symptoms could include blue skin, blue fingernails, and blue lips.

Risk of Opioid Use Disorder

When it comes to Percocet vs. Oxycodone, one of the similarities is the risk to develop Opioid use disorder. An individual who is abusing any of these painkillers, while suffering distress, significant impairment, and dysfunction as a result of this abuse would be identified with this disorder.  This is one of many types of a substance use disorder, and it is considered as a formal mental disorder.
American association of Anesthesiologists lists the signs of Opioid use disorder as:

  • Having cravings to use these drugs
  • Issues controlling the use of these substances
  • Giving up activities as a result of drug use
  • Failure to responsibilities as a result of the opioid use
  • Developing tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Differences Between Percocet vs. Oxycodone

The differences between Oxycodone and Percocet are listed below:

Active Ingredients

When looking at the differences between these two powerful painkillers, it is necessary to look at their active ingredients. Oxycodone is an active ingredient on its own, and it is also present as an active ingredient in Percocet, which also contains an active ingredient called acetaminophen or paracetamol.

Strength and Efficacy

female doctor is showing papers to patientJust like the difference between Norco and Percocet in strength, there is also a moderate difference in strength when it comes to Percocet vs. Oxycodone. Although oxycodone is moderately strong, Percocet is said to be stronger having the best pain-relieving capabilities among both drugs. This is because of the acetaminophen in it, which acts together with the oxycodone to increase the effects of each other and also handle severe fever better than oxycodone. This also makes Percocet stronger than Vicodin and a lot of other painkillers.
Scientific research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information compared the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of oxycodone and Percocet on patients with osteoarthritis pain of the knee or hip. During this research, it was found out that improvement took place in the 62.2% of patients on Oxycodone medication and 45.9% of patients with Percocet. It went on to state that Oxycodone was more effective and less costly from the societal perspective. From the healthcare perspective, Oxycodone, when compared to Percocet, fell within the acceptable range of cost-effectiveness between 50,000 – 100,000 USD per QALY gained.

Dosage Strength

Existing dosage forms of Percocet and oxycodone are completely different. They both come in various dosage forms from liquid to extended-release to oral tablets. Below is a comparison of the oral tablet doses.

Percocet (Acetaminophen/Oxycodone) Oxycodone
2.5 (2.5mg/325mg)
5 (5mg/325mg) 5mg
7.5 (7.5mg/325mg)
10 (10mg/325mg) 10mg
10 (10mg/650mg)

Dosage Administration

Percocet Oxycodone
1-2 5mg/325mg tablet every 6 hours 2.5mg-10mg every 4-6hours

Dosage Form

Percocet Oxycodone
Comes in liquid, tablet, and capsule Comes in liquid, tablet (both immediate release and controlled release), and capsule.


Oxycodone and Percocet price is another key difference between these drugs. Percocet is branded, and it also contains a combination of Acetaminophen, which makes it costlier than Oxycodone. Below is a comparison of the prices the oral tablets of most drugs:

Percocet  doses Price per unit Oxycodone (Mg) Price per unit
2.5mg/325mg $10.84
 5mg/325mg $15.14 5mg $0.32-$1.72
7.5mg/325mg $16.35
10mg/325mg $21.35 10mg $0.19-$0.41
10mg/625mg $21.35
15mg $0.76-$1.02
20mg $0.26-$0.92
30mg $0.35-$1.41

Other Differences

Below are the other notable differences when it comes to Percocet vs. Oxycodone:


Percocet Oxycodone
Percocet starts working from 20-30 mins of intake and lasts for 2-4 hours Oxycodone starts working from 30-60 mins of intake and lasts for 2-4 hours
Percocet Oxycodone
Handles moderate-severe pains, and reduces fever due to the acetaminophen Relieves moderate-severe pains

Percocet vs. Oxycodone: Which One is Better?

apothecary with drug and female customerMost health experts tend to recommend Oxycodone for mild or moderate pain and Percocet for severe and chronic pain. This is because pills of Percocet work faster, and it is far stronger than just Oxy.
When patients are deciding what to use: Percocet or Oxycodone, it is essential to be aware of the risks involved with these drugs. Some patients regularly go out of the prescribed doses, and the results could be deadly. A patient should contact a professional before making use of any of these drugs.
If any patient is fighting any of these drug addiction, it is very crucial to admit one into a professional rehab and recovery center. Staffs are always ready to help handle their condition and ensure a full recovery.

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Published on: November 1st, 2018

Updated on: October 26th, 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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