How do hydrocodone and vicodin differ

HydrocodoneDrug groupsOpioid Hydrocodone is an antitussive and pain reliever active ingredient from the group of opioids that is approved in Switzerland for the treatment of dry coughs. In other countries it is also used for pain management. Hydrocodone is a substrate of CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 and drug interactions are possible. The most common possible adverse effects include fatigue, headache, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Like other opioids, hydrocodone can be addictive, abused as an intoxicant and, especially if overdosed, lead to life-threatening respiratory depression.

synonymous: hydrocodonum, hydrocodoni tartrasPH, hydrocodone tartrate, dihydrocodeinone, hydrocodone bitartrate


Hydrocodone was on the market in Switzerland between 1971 and 2018 in the form of tablets (Hydrocodon Streuli®, out of trade).

In the USA it is available in combination with paracetamol (Vicodin®, generic).

Structure and properties

Hydrocodone (C.18H21NO3, Mr = 299.4 g / mol) is found in medicinal products as hydrocodone tartrate (2.5 H2O), a white, crystalline powder that is soluble in water. It is a derivative of codeine that occurs naturally in the milky sap of the opium poppy.


Hydrocodone (ATC R05DA03) is cough-relieving and pain-relieving. The effects are based on the binding of the μ-opioid receptors. Due to the possible side effects, from our point of view it should only be used cautiously and not as the first choice for coughing.


In Switzerland, hydrocodone is only approved for the treatment of dry coughs. In other countries, such as the United States, it is also registered for treating pain.


Like other opioids, hydrocodone can be abused as a euphoric intoxicant. The TV doctor Dr. House is dependent on Vicodin®.


According to the specialist information. The tablets are usually taken two to three times a day with or after meals.


The complete precautionary measures can be found in the medicinal product information sheet.


Hydrocodone is transformed by CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 into the active metabolite hydromorphone (e.g. Palladon®) resp. Metabolized to norhydrocodone. Corresponding interactions should be taken into account. Further drug interactions are possible with central depressant drugs, alcohol, expectorants and MAO inhibitors.

unwanted effects

The most common possible adverse effects include tiredness, headache, drowsiness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation and sphincter sphincter Oddi. Like other opioids, hydrocodone can be addictive and lead to life-threatening respiratory depression, especially if overdosed.

see also

Codeine, opioids

  • Medicinal product information (CH)
  • Hutchinson M.R., Menelaou A., Foster D.J., Coller J.K., Somogyi A.A. CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 involvement in the primary oxidative metabolism of hydrocodone by human liver microsomes. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 2004, 57 (3), 287-97 Pubmed
  • Madadi P. et al. Fatal hydrocodone overdose in a child: pharmacogenetics and drug interactions. Pediatrics, 2010, 126 (4), e986-9 Pubmed
  • Nerenberg D.M., Fudin J. Maximum daily dose of hydrocodone. Am J Health Syst Pharm, 2010, 67 (19), 1588-9 Pubmed
  • Pharmacopoea Helvetica
  • Prommer E. Hydrocodone: does it have a role in palliative care? J Opioid Manag, 2010, 6 (4), 295-9 Pubmed

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on March 5, 2020.
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