How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Oxycodone belongs to a group of medications known as opioid analgesics (narcotic pain relievers). It is used to relieve moderate-to-severe pain. It decreases pain by working on the central nervous system.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

5 mg
Each blue, round, scored tablet, debossed with "5" over "OXY" on one side and scored on the other side, contains oxycodone 5 mg (as oxycodone hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, dibasic calcium phosphate, FD&C Blue No. 1 Aluminum Lake, magnesium stearate, and microcrystalline cellulose.

10 mg
Each white, round, scored tablet, debossed with "10" over "OXY" on one side and scored on the other side, contains oxycodone 10 mg (as oxycodone hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, dibasic calcium phosphate, magnesium stearate, and microcrystalline cellulose.

20 mg
Each white, oval, scored tablet, debossed with "20 OXY" on one side and scored on the other side, contains oxycodone 20 mg (as oxycodone hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, dibasic calcium phosphate, magnesium stearate, and microcrystalline cellulose.

How should I use this medication?

The dose of oxycodone varies widely depending on the cause and severity of pain, individual medical history, age, and body weight.

For people who are not taking opioid pain medications when oxycodone is started, the usual starting dose of immediate-release tablets and suppositories is 5 mg or 10 mg every 6 hours, as needed for the pain. Your doctor can adjust your dose until a dose that controls your pain with tolerable side effects is reached.

For people who are currently taking other opioid pain medications when oxycodone is started, the recommended starting dose will depend on the type and dose of opioid that is currently being taken. Your doctor will determine the appropriate dose for you.

Oxycodone should be taken with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important that this medication be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

If you miss a dose of the controlled-release tablets, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication in its original packaging at room temperature and protect it from moisture. Keep this medication in a safe place away from children or pets, and to prevent theft. Accidental use by a child or pet may result in death, so if this occurs, get immediate medical attention for the child or pet. Do not take this medication in front of children. Return any unused medication to your pharmacy for safe disposal.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take oxycodone if you:

  • are allergic to oxycodone, other opioids (e.g., codeine, hydrocodone, morphine), or any ingredients of the medication
  • are pregnant or breast-feeding, or during labour and delivery
  • are taking or have taken (within the last 14 days) MAO inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
  • have a head injury
  • have a seizure disorder
  • have acute alcoholism
  • have acute asthma or other obstructive airway diseases (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema)
  • have cor pulmonale (heart failure caused by chronic high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs)
  • have delirium tremens (e.g., confusion, diarrhea, shaking, fever, hallucinations, disorientation) associated with alcohol withdrawal
  • have increased cerebral spinal fluid pressure
  • have increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood
  • have or may have appendicitis or pancreatitis
  • have or may have bowel or digestive system problems (e.g., paralytic ileus)
  • have or may have a blockage in the digestive system
  • have respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
  • have severe central nervous system depression (slowed nervous system)
  • have mild pain that can be managed with other medications

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • lack of energy or tiredness
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • weakness

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • itching
  • facial redness or flushing

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest tightness or wheezing
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • fainting
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • signs of a bowel blockage (abdominal pain, nausea, severe constipation)
  • signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of the face, throat, or tongue)

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

  • blue tinge to lips
  • cold, clammy skin
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • extreme drowsiness
  • hallucinations
  • pinpoint pupils
  • slow or troubled breathing
  • slow heartbeat
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Abdominal (stomach) conditions: Oxycodone and other narcotic medications may make the diagnosis of abdominal conditions more difficult or it may worsen these conditions. If you have abdominal problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Alcohol: Do not consume alcohol while taking this medication, as this may lead to dangerous and even fatal side effects.

Constipation: Constipation happens frequently while taking opioid (narcotic) pain relievers on a regular basis. Your doctor will discuss the use of stimulant laxatives, stool softeners, and other measures to be used as required.

Dependence and withdrawal: As with other opioid medications (narcotics), this medication may become habit-forming if taken for long periods of time. Misuse of oxycodone is usually not a problem when it is used appropriately for pain relief. Physical dependence, or tolerance (a need to take regular doses to prevent physical symptoms) has been associated with narcotic analgesics such as oxycodone. Withdrawal symptoms may be experienced if the dose is significantly reduced or suddenly discontinued. Reducing the dose gradually under medical supervision can help prevent or decrease these withdrawal symptoms when this medication is no longer required for pain control.

Withdrawal symptoms (e.g., body aches, diarrhea, nervousness, restlessness, runny nose, sneezing, goose bumps, shaking, shivering, nausea, stomach cramps, fast heart rate, fever, sweating) may occur if oxycodone is stopped suddenly. If you have been taking this medication for a long time and no longer require it for pain control, you should stop the medication gradually as directed by your doctor.

Difficulty breathing: Oxycodone can cause serious breathing problems, particularly for people having an acute asthma attack or those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis, emphysema) or other conditions that affect breathing. If you experience slowed breathing or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention. If you have lung problems, or are taking other medications that can slow breathing, you are more at risk for experiencing this.

If you have asthma or other breathing disorders, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Oxycodone may impair the mental or physical abilities needed for activities such as driving or operating machinery. Do not drive or perform other potentially hazardous tasks if this medication affects your ability to do these safely.

Head injury: Oxycodone can cause increased pressure inside the head. If you have an acute head injury or any other condition which increases the pressure inside your head, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Kidney function: Kidney disease or reduced kidney function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have severely reduced kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Liver function: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have severely reduced liver function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Medical conditions: If you have abnormal heart rhythms, reduced adrenal function (e.g., Addison's disease), low thyroid, inflammation of the pancreas, enlarged prostate, urethral strictures, or depression or other psychiatric problems, oxycodone may cause increased symptoms or your condition to become worse. Discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Stopping the medication: Do not suddenly stop taking this medication since withdrawal symptoms may occur. These symptoms may include body aches, diarrhea, nervousness, restlessness, runny nose, sneezing, goose bumps, shaking, shivering, nausea, stomach cramps, fast heart rate, fever, sweating, and confusion. Your doctor will advise you on how to safely stop taking this medication if you no longer require it for pain control.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy. Infants born to mothers who have taken oxycodone during pregnancy have been born with signs of narcotic withdrawal. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if oxycodone passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this mediation have not been established for children. Accidental ingestion of this medication by children may lead to severe and even fatal consequences. Keep this medication out of the reach of children.

Seniors: Seniors may be more sensitive to the effects of this medication.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between oxycodone and any of the following:

  • aclidinium
  • alcohol
  • amiodarone
  • anaesthetics
  • amphetamines (e.g., dextroamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine)
  • antihistamines (e.g., chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine)
  • antipsychotics (e.g., chlorpromazine, haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone)
  • antiseizure medications (e.g., clobazam, ethosuximide, felbamate, levetiracetam, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate, valproic acid, zonisamide)
  • aprepitant
  • atropine
  • azelastine
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • baclofen
  • barbiturates (e.g., secobarbital, phenobarbital)
  • benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam, lorazepam)
  • benztropine
  • beta-blockers (e.g., metoprolol, propranolol)
  • bicalutamide
  • boceprevir
  • bosentan
  • brimonidine
  • calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine, verapamil)
  • chloral hydrate
  • ciprofloxacin
  • cimetidine
  • conivaptan
  • cyclobenzaprine
  • deferasirox
  • desmopressin
  • dexamethasone
  • dimenhydrinate
  • diuretics (water pills; e.g., furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, triamterene)
  • dronabinol
  • droperidol
  • enzalutamide
  • flavoxate
  • grapefruit juice
  • guanfacine
  • HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs; e.g., delaviridine, efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
  • ipratropium
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • metronidazole
  • mirtazapine
  • mitotane
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs; e.g., moclobemide, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
  • nabilone
  • naltrexone
  • other narcotic pain relievers (e.g., codeine, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine)
  • nefazodone
  • norfloxacin
  • octreotide
  • olopatadine
  • orphenadrine
  • oxybutynin
  • pramipexole
  • procyclidine
  • rifabutin
  • rifampin
  • ropinirole
  • St. John’s wort
  • scopolamine
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; e.g., citalopram, duloxetine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline)
  • simeprevir
  • stiripentol
  • tapentadol
  • telaprevir
  • tetracycline
  • thalidomide
  • tiotropium
  • tramadol
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, desipramine, imipramine, trimipramine)
  • trihexyphenidyl
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitors (e.g., dasatinib, imatinib, nilotinib, sunatinib)
  • zolpidem
  • zopiclone

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.