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Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opiate in the United States with more than 136 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products dispensed in 2013 and with nearly 65.5 million dispensed in the first six months of 2014.

There are several hundred brand name and generic hydrocodone products marketed, most of which are combination products.

The most frequently prescribed combination is hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin®, Lortab®).

Every age group has been affected by the relative ease of hydrocodone availability and the perceived safety of these products by medical prescribers. Sometimes viewed as a “white collar” addiction, hydrocodone abuse has increased among all ethnic and economic groups.

Hydrocodone is an orally active analgesic and antitussive Schedule II narcotic that is marketed in multi-ingredient Schedule III products.

Hydrocodone has an analgesic potency similar to or greater than that of oral morphine. Sales and production of this drug have increased significantly in recent years, as have diversion and illicit use.

Trade names include Anexsia®, Hycodan®, Hycomine®, Lorcet®, Lortab®, Tussionex®, Tylox®, Vicodin®, and Vicoprofen®. These are available as tablets, capsules, and/or syrups.

Generally, this drug is abused by oral rather than intravenous administration. Currently, about 20 tons of hydrocodone products are used annually in the United States.