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Percocet® and Percodan®

Percocet® and Percodan® are the brand names of two narcotic drugs that contain the opioid drug oxycodone (which is the main ingredient of OxyContin®). In addition to oxycodone, Percocet® contains acetaminophen, and Percodan® contains oxycodone and aspirin. Both drugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain, and both drugs are marketed by the Pennsylvania-based company Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Schedule II Narcotics

Due to the oxycodone ingredient, both Percocet® and Percodan® are strictly regulated as Schedule II drugs. Percocet® is in the FDA’s Pregnancy Category C whereas Percodan® is in Pregnancy Category B class of drugs.

As a Pregnancy Category C drug, it is unknown whether taking Percocet® during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for delivering a baby with birth defects. Because there aren’t any studies on pregnant women and birth defects, doctors are advised to only prescribe Percocet® to pregnant women if the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risk.

It has been shown that babies born to women who take Percocet® during their pregnancies have a greater risk of breathing problems and suffering from addiction/withdrawal symptoms. If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or are breast feeding, tell your doctor before starting treatment with this medication.

Aspirin versus Acetaminophen

The use of Percodan® for pain after surgery has largely been replaced by Percocet®, because the aspirin in Percodan® inhibits the blood from clotting, and it can thus create post-operative bleeding. However, because of its use of acetaminophen, Percocet® is one of several drugs that is implicated in the hundreds of acetaminophen deaths each year in the U.S., and in 2009 the FDA called for stricter regulation of Percocet® sales to counteract this alarming trend.

As theNew York Times noted that year: “Narcotic painkillers are now the most widely prescribed class of drugs in this country; they are also involved in an estimated 15,000 overdose deaths annually, largely involving their abuse.”

FDA Recommended a Ban on Percocet®

In fact, a federal advisory panel voted in 2009 to recommend a ban on Percocet®(and Vicodin®) because the acetaminophen in these drugs can cause serious liver damage. In July 2012, the FDA was petitioned to limit the overuse of painkillers, including Percocet®, in light of the abuse, injuries and deaths linked to these drugs.

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