Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic that is widely prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain, in both instant and time-release forms. It was first synthesized in 1916 in Germany in an attempt to create a semi-synthetic opioid that would improve on the already existing opioids (codeine, morphine, and heroin).

Oxycodone is perhaps best known in the form of OxyContin, the brand name of a time-release oral formulation of oxycodone developed by Purdue Pharma. OxyContin, first introduced to the U.S. market in 1996 became the best-selling non-generic narcotic pain reliever in the U.S. by 2001.

The large amount of OxyContin being prescribed meant a greater availability of OxyContin for abusers on the street. It quickly became one of the most commonly abused opioid medications in the U.S., even with its built-in time-release mechanism. Abusers quickly discovered that they could defeat the time-release mechanism by crushing the pill, which meant they could get the oxycodone intended to be released over a 12 hour period, all at once. Although other oxycodone-containing formulations such as Percocet had existed before OxyContin, the introduction of OxyContin made available high doses of oxycodone that contained no other drugs.

Brand Names

Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicodone, Endocet, Oxyfast, Oxynorm, Percodan, Roxicet

Street Names

Oxy, O.C.'s, Roxies, Percs, 80s/greens, 40s/yellows, 20s/pinks, Hillbilly Heroin


  • Percocet - tablet, oxycodone HCl/acetaminophen: 2.5 mg/325 mg, 5 mg/325 mg, 7.5 mg/325 mg, 10 mg/325 mg
  • OxyContin - tablet, oxycodone HCl extended-release: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg
  • Roxicodone - tablet, oxycodone HCl instant-release: 5 mg, 15 mg, 30 mg
  • Percodan - tablet, oxycodone HCl/aspirin: 5 mg/325 mg
  • OxyFast - oral solution, oxycodone hydrochloride (HCl) 20 mg/mL

Medical Uses

  • relief of moderate to severe pain
  • used as an alternative to other opiates to treat severe diarrhea

Route of Administration

oral, intramuscular (IM), intravenous (IV), insufflation (snorting), subcutaneous (SC), rectal


3-4.5 h

Medical Dosage

  • pain relief (instant release): 5 to 15 mg orally every 4 to 6 h; 5 to 10 mg IV
  • pain relief (controlled release): 10 mg orally every 12 h


  • Oxycodone is listed as Schedule II in the United States. This means it is illegal to sell without a DEA license and illegal to buy or possess without a license or prescription.
  • Oxycodone is listed as Schedule I in Canada.



  • Schumacher MA, Basbaum AI, Way WL, Opioid Analgesics & Antagonists (Chapter 31) in: Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. 12e. Katzung BG, Masters SB, Trevor AJ (Editors). McGraw-Hill / Lange, 2012.
  • Kalso E. Oxycodone. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management May 2005; 29(5 Suppl):S47-56. [PubMed] [PDF]
  • Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain. United States Department of Veterans Affairs / Department of Defense, May 2010. [PDF]
  • Controlled Substances - Alphabetical Order. DEA Office of Diversion Control, May 2013. [PDF]
  • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Minister of Justice, Canada, Nov 2012. [PDF]

Related Pages

  • Oxycodone Medication Identification
    A list of imprints on oxycodone medicines with images and details including dosages, manufacturer, shape, and color.
  • Old OxyContin vs. New OxyContin
    A series of images depicting the differences between the old and new formulations of OxyContin (OC and OP imprints).
  • Oxymorphone
    Oxymorphone, a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic 10 times more potent than morphine. Read about oxymorphone brand names, street names, formulations, medical uses, chemistry, legality, and other information.
  • Methadone Maintenance
    Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment for opioid dependence and addiction. Read about the history of methadone and how a methadone treatment program works.
Call To Find a Methadone Clinic 800-865-3138
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