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Hydrocodone, sold under brand names such as Vicodin and Norco among many others, is a semisynthetic opioid derived from codeine, one of the opioid alkaloids found in the opium poppy. It is a narcotic analgesic used orally for relief of moderate to severe pain, but also commonly taken in liquid form as an antitussive/cough suppressant.
As with members of all categories of semi-synthetic opioids derived from morphine (and codeine is one of these, in fact) with the exception of the simple esters of morphine like heroin, nicomorphine, acetyldipropanoylmorphine etc., hydrocodone made commercially is manufactured in a much more efficient synthesis from thebaine, a close chemical relative of codeine found in fairly high concentrations in opium.
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Hydrocodone is two steps from codeine and therefore three from morphine, and in fact a number of syntheses were found, with others being from dihydrocodeine, dihydromorphine, tetrahydrothebaine and a large number of total syntheses from coal tar or petroleum through morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Hydrocodone’s closest structural relatives are fellow 14-hydroxycodeineones such as oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphinol, oxymorphol, and hydromorphone.
Much of hydrocodone’s activity is from the last of these produced in the liver from the hydrocodone, in the one step which activates similar drugs by turning them into stronger derivatives in the same fashion in which the liver turns codeine to morphine. However, hydrocodone is also turned into other active products by other metabolic pathways and hydrocodone does, like oxycodone, have intrinsic activity of its own to a greater extent than is the case for codeine.
Medical Uses of Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain, although it is often prescribed to treat mild pain as well. In liquid formulations, it is used as an antitussive to treat cough. In one study comparing the potency of hydrocodone to that of oxycodone, it was found that it took 50% more hydrocodone to achieve the same degree of miosis (pupillary contraction). The investigators interpreted this to mean that oxycodone is about 50% more potent than hydrocodone.
However, in a study of emergency department patients with fractures, it was found that an equal amount of either drug provided about the same degree of pain relief, indicating that there is little practical difference between them when used for that purpose. Some references state that the analgesic action of hydrocodone begins in 20–30 minutes and lasts about 4–8 hours. The manufacturer’s information says onset of action is about 10–30 minutes and duration is about 4–6 hours. Recommended dosing interval is 4–6 hours. Buy hydrocodone online