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Percodan and its History

Percodan is a drug consisting of a mixture of oxycodone and aspirin,

which is used in the treatment of pain at the moderate to severe level. Its generic name is simply a combination of the two words, oxycodone/aspirin. In its branded form, Percodan is sold by Endo Pharmaceuticals.


Percodan first appeared on the prescription drug market in the United States in 1950. At that time, the rights to the drug were owned by the DuPont Pharmaceuticals corporation, and for some years it was an extremely popular choice for those people who needed a prescription-strength painkiller. However, in more recent times, Percodan has been increasingly replaced by other drugs, especially those which contain a compound of oxycodone and acetaminophen - commonly known as Tylenol - rather than oxycodone and aspirin.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has placed Percodin on its Schedule II list, owing to its potential for abuse and for creating dependency in a limited but significant number of people. For pregnant women, the drug is listed as Category B, since it contains aspirin, which is not usually recommended for ingestion by women during pregnancy. However, there is little conclusive evidence as to the safety - or otherwise - of Percodan itself when given to pregnant women.

The Make-up of Percodan

The oxycodone which goes into Percodan takes the form of a white crystalline powder, without any appreciable odor, which during the manufacturing process, is made from thebaine, an opium-based alkaloid. By itself, there is no medical use for thebaine. In the body, oxymorphine is produced from the oxycodone by the metabolic process. A key reason for oxycodone to be used rather than morphine itself is that it is effective when taken by mouth, in the same way that is the case for codeine.

Until acetaminophen became generally used, Percodan was the most common drug used in the relief of pain for people recovering from operations. There were two main reasons for this: the half-life of oxycodone, which is notably long, and the potency of the drug, which is notably high. In its original form, Percodan included a little caffeine as well, although this has long since ceased to be the case. Generally speaking, patients will take four tablets a day, although a dosage of up to 12 tablets may be prescribed where pain is particularly severe or debilitating.

When Not to Take Percodan

Because it contains a significant quantity of aspirin, Percodan is not recommended for use in young people who are suffering from fevers. This is particularly the case if the teenager or child is also suffering from chicken pox, or from symptoms resembling those associated with flu. This is because, in young people, a very serious complication known as Reye's Syndrome can be prompted by the use of aspirin. This must not be taken lightly, since in extreme cases it can lead to the death of the child.

People who have recently suffered from bleeding in the intestine or stomach must not take Percodan, and this also applies to people who have been prescribed medicines that thin the blood. Clearly, those who suffer from allergies to the drug's active ingredients, oxycodone and aspirin, should also avoid taking Percodan. There are other drugs which are contraindicated for the consumption of Percodan, and the list of them is quite extensive. For this reason, it is extremely important to consult a medical professional if you are taking any other drug, or have done so within the previous two weeks before being prescribed Percodan.

Taking an Overdose of Percodan

Taking too much Percodan is classed as a medical emergency, and anyone who does this should immediately get in touch with a qualified medical professional. In some areas, there are telephone helplines such as the US Poison Helpline, which can give confidential and expert advice on how to proceed. The well-established Percodan history of overdose in some people is one of the reasons that it is no longer the drug of choice in most pain-relief situations.

Symptoms that commonly occur in people who have taken an overdose of Percodan include a sense of intense tiredness and characteristically tiny pupils in the eye, as though the ambient light level were extremely high. Other signs of an overdose can include vomiting and nausea, confusion, diarrhea, skin that feels very clammy and cold, and a feeling of weakness in the muscles. In severe cases, a person may experience a weakening of the pulse and partial or total loss of breathing. In extreme cases, they may slip into a coma and death can be the result.


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