There are many different types of pain that affect people in different ways. What works for you may not work for someone else. For this reason, there are many different medications to treat pain. Oxycodone is one type of pain drug. It comes in an immediate-release form and an extended-release form. The immediate-release form of oxycodone is available as a generic drug. The extended-release form is only available as the brand-name drug OxyContin. This article helps you understand the differences and similarities between these two drugs and how they work.

Read more: All about opioids and addiction »

OxyContin is a brand-name version of the extended-release form of oxycodone. They are different versions of the same drug. OxyContin and immediate-release oxycodone belong to a drug class called opioids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way and are often used to treat similar conditions. Immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin both bind to receptors in your brain and spinal cord. When they do this, they block pain signals and stop pain.

Immediate-release oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as from surgery or an injury. OxyContin is usually reserved for longer-lasting pain from the late stages of a long-term disease, usually cancer. Doctors may sometimes add immediate-release oxycodone to treatment with OxyContin during brief moments when the pain becomes severe.

The following table lists features of both drugs.

Immediate-release oxycodoneOxyContin
Why is it used?Treatment of moderate to severe pain, such as pain after surgery or from a severe injury Treatment of moderate to severe pain that usually is associated with the last stages of chronic diseases
Is a generic version available?YesNo
What are the brands?Oxaydo


What are forms?Immediate-release oral tablet

Immediate-release oral capsule

Immediate-release oral solution

Extended-release tablet
Can the capsule or tablet be opened, cut, or crushed?YesNo
What are the strengths?Immediate-release oral tablet:
Generic: 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Roxicodone (brand): 5 mg, 15 mg, 30 mg
Oxaydo (brand): 5 mg, 7.5 mg

Immediate-release oral capsule: 5 mg

Immediate-release oral solution: 5 mg/5 mL, 100 mg/5 mL

Extended-release tablet: 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg
How often do I take it?Every four to six hoursEvery 12 hours
Do I take it for long-term or short-term treatment?Short-term treatment, usually three days or fewerLong-term treatment
How do I store it?Store at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C)Store at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C)

Both immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin are powerful pain relievers. They both have been shown to be highly effective at treating pain.

Oxycodone immediate-release tablets are available as generic drugs. They usually cost less than OxyContin. Your insurance plan may also prefer generic oxycodone over OxyContin. This means they may cover only one of the drugs or only generic forms. You should call your insurance company to ask if one drug is preferred over the other. You should also call your pharmacy to see if they keep these drugs in stock. Not all pharmacies carry these drugs.

The side effects of oxycodone and OxyContin are very similar. This is because they contain the same active ingredient. The most common side effects of these drugs include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • constipation
  • itchiness
  • dry mouth
  • weakness
  • headache
  • changes in mood or behavior

Severe side effects of these drugs are less common. They include:

  • allergic reactions, such as rash, itching, hives, and swelling of your face, lips, or tongue
  • breathing problems
  • confusion
  • feeling faint or lightheaded, which may cause falling
  • trouble urinating or changes in the amount you urinate
  • unusual weakness or tiredness

Learn more: Detailed drug information for oxycodone »

An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. Do not drink alcohol while taking immediate-release oxycodone or OxyContin. This combination can be deadly.

The following drugs can interact with both immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin:

  • Other pain drugs, certain drugs for mental disorders (such as phenothizaines), tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and alcohol. These can cause breathing problems, low blood pressure, extreme tiredness, or coma.
  • Skeletal muscle relaxers. These can cause problems with breathing.
  • Pain drugs that work in the same way as immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin. These can increase your risk of side effects.
  • Certain antibiotics (such as erythromycin), certain antifungal drugs (such as ketoconazole), certain heart drugs, certain seizure drugs, and certain HIV drugs. These can change the effectiveness of immediate-release oxycodone or OxyContin or increase your risk of side effects.

You shouldn’t take immediate-release oxycodone or OxyContin if you have asthma, other breathing problems, kidney disease, or liver disease. Immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin can make these conditions worse.

If you are breastfeeding, do not take either of these drugs. Both of these drugs can pass through breast milk and harm your child.

These drugs may also cause problems if you’re pregnant. Certain side effects of these drugs, such as changes in mood and behavior, breathing problems, constipation, and lightheadedness can be particularly bothersome while you are pregnant. Also, results from one study have shown a link between certain birth defects and the use of opioids by pregnant women.

These drugs are very powerful pain relievers. It is important to know everything you can about these drugs before you take them. They can be habit forming, even at low doses and when taken exactly as prescribed. Misuse of these drugs can lead to addiction, poisoning, overdose, or even death. If you are prescribed these drugs, it’s very important that you talk to your doctor about how to use these drugs safely.