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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Abuse Potential

OxyContin contains oxycodone, an opioid agonist and a Schedule II controlled substance. Oxycodone can be abused in a manner similar to other opioid agonists legal or illicit. Opioid agonists are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion. Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing OxyContin in situations where there is concern about increased risks of misuse, abuse, or diversion. Concerns about abuse, addiction, and diversion should not, however, prevent the proper management of pain.

Assess each patient's risk for opioid abuse or addiction prior to prescribing OxyContin. The risk for opioid abuse is increased in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or mental illness (e.g., major depression). Patients at increased risk may still be appropriately treated with modified-release opioid formulations; however these patients will require intensive monitoring for signs of misuse, abuse, or addiction. Routinely monitor all patients receiving opioids for signs of misuse, abuse, and addiction because these drugs carry a risk for addiction even under appropriate medical use.

Misuse or abuse of OxyContin by crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved product will result in the uncontrolled delivery of the opioid and pose a significant risk that could result in overdose and death [see Drug Abuse and Dependence and OVERDOSAGE].

Contact local state professional licensing board or state controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.

Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

Respiratory depression is the chief hazard of opioid agonists, including OxyContin. Respiratory depression if not immediately recognized and treated, may lead to respiratory arrest and death. Respiratory depression from opioids is manifested by a reduced urge to breathe and a decreased rate of respiration, often associated with a “sighing” pattern of breathing (deep breaths separated by abnormally long pauses). Carbon dioxide (CO2) retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects of opioids. Management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive measures, and use of opioid antagonists, depending on the patient's clinical status [see OVERDOSAGE].

While serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression can occur at any time during the use of OxyContin, the risk is greatest during the initiation of therapy or following a dose increase. Closely monitor patients for respiratory depression when initiating therapy with OxyContin and following dose increases. Instruct patients against use by individuals other than the patient for whom OxyContin was prescribed and to keep OxyContin out of the reach of children, as such inappropriate use may result in fatal respiratory depression.

To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of OxyContin are essential [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Overestimating the OxyContin dose when converting patients from another opioid product can result in fatal overdose with the first dose. Respiratory depression has also been reported with use of modified-release opioids when used as recommended and not misused or abused.

To further reduce the risk of respiratory depression, consider the following:

  • Proper dosing and titration are essential and OxyContin should only be prescribed by healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in the use of potent opioids for the management of chronic pain.
  • OxyContin 60 mg and 80 mg tablets are for use in opioid-tolerant patients only. Ingestion of these strengths of OxyContin tablets may cause fatal respiratory depression when administered to patients not already tolerant to high doses of opioids.
  • Instruct patients to swallow OxyContin tablets intact. The tablets are not to be crushed, dissolved, or chewed. The resulting oxycodone dose may be fatal, particularly in opioid-na´ve individuals.
  • OxyContin is contraindicated in patients with respiratory depression and in patients with conditions that increase the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].

Accidental Exposure

Accidental ingestion of OxyContin, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of oxycodone.

Elderly, Cachectic, and Debilitated Patients

Respiratory depression is more likely to occur in elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients as they may have altered pharmacokinetics or altered clearance compared to younger, healthier patients. Therefore, monitor such patients closely, particularly when initiating and titrating OxyContin and when OxyContin is given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Use in Patients with Chronic Pulmonary Disease

Monitor patients with significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, and patients having a substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression for respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy and titrating with OxyContin, as in these patients, even usual therapeutic doses of OxyContin may decrease respiratory drive to the point of apnea [see Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression above]. Consider the use of alternative non-opioid analgesics in these patients if possible.

Interactions with Alcohol, CNS Depressants, and Illicit Drugs

Hypotension, and profound sedation, coma or respiratory depression may result if OxyContin is used concomitantly with other CNS depressants (e.g., sedatives, anxiolytics, hypnotics, neuroleptics, muscle relaxants, other opioids). When considering the use of OxyContin in a patient taking a CNS depressant, assess the duration of use of the CNS depressant and the patient's response, including the degree of tolerance that has developed to CNS depression. Additionally, consider the patient's use, if any, of alcohol and/or illicit drugs that can cause CNS depression. If OxyContin therapy is to be initiated in a patient taking a CNS depressant, start with a lower OxyContin dose than usual and monitor patients for signs of sedation and respiratory depression and consider using a lower dose of the concomitant CNS depressant [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Hypotensive Effects

OxyContin may cause severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension and syncope in ambulatory patients. There is an increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been compromised by a reduced blood volume or concurrent administration of certain CNS depressant drugs (e.g., phenothiazines or general anesthetics) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Monitor these patients for signs of hypotension after initiating or titrating the dose of OxyContin. In patients with circulatory shock, OxyContin may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of OxyContin in patients with circulatory shock.

Use in Patients with Head Injury or Increased Intracranial Pressure

Monitor patients taking OxyContin who may be susceptible to the intracranial effects of CO2 retention (e.g., those with evidence of increased intracranial pressure or brain tumors) for signs of sedation and respiratory depression, particularly when initiating therapy with OxyContin. OxyContin may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2 retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Opioids may also obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury.

Avoid the use of OxyContin in patients with impaired consciousness or coma.

Difficulty in Swallowing and Risk for Obstruction in Patients at Risk for a Small Gastrointestinal Lumen

There have been post-marketing reports of difficulty in swallowing OxyContin tablets. These reports included choking, gagging, regurgitation and tablets stuck in the throat. Instruct patients not to pre-soak, lick or otherwise wet OxyContin tablets prior to placing in the mouth, and to take one tablet at a time with enough water to ensure complete swallowing immediately after placing in the mouth.

There have been rare post-marketing reports of cases of intestinal obstruction, and exacerbation of diverticulitis, some of which have required medical intervention to remove the tablet. Patients with underlying GI disorders such as esophageal cancer or colon cancer with a small gastrointestinal lumen are at greater risk of developing these complications. Consider use of an alternative analgesic in patients who have difficulty swallowing and patients at risk for underlying GI disorders resulting in a small gastrointestinal lumen.

Use in Patients with Gastrointestinal Conditions

OxyContin is contraindicated in patients with GI obstruction, including paralytic ileus. The oxycodone in OxyContin may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis, for worsening symptoms. Opioids may cause increases in the serum amylase.

Use in Patients with Convulsive or Seizure Disorders

The oxycodone in OxyContin may aggravate convulsions in patients with convulsive disorders, and may induce or aggravate seizures in some clinical settings. Monitor patients with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during OxyContin therapy.

Avoidance of Withdrawal

Avoid the use of mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) in patients who have received or are receiving a course of therapy with a full opioid agonist analgesic, including OxyContin. In these patients, mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect and/or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms.

When discontinuing OxyContin, gradually taper the dose [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Do not abruptly discontinue OxyContin.

Driving and Operating Machinery

OxyContin may impair the mental or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery unless they are tolerant to the effects of OxyContin and know how they will react to the medication.

Cytochrome P450 3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers

Since the CYP3A4 isoenzyme plays a major role in the metabolism of OxyContin, drugs that alter CYP3A4 activity may cause changes in clearance of oxycodone which could lead to changes in oxycodone plasma concentrations.

Inhibition of CYP3A4 activity by its inhibitors, such as macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), and protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir), may increase plasma concentrations of oxycodone and prolong opioid effects.

CYP450 inducers, such as rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin, may induce the metabolism of oxycodone and, therefore, may cause increased clearance of the drug which could lead to a decrease in oxycodone plasma concentrations, lack of efficacy or, possibly, development of an abstinence syndrome in a patient who had developed physical dependence to oxycodone.

If co-administration is necessary, caution is advised when initiating OxyContin treatment in patients currently taking, or discontinuing, CYP3A4 inhibitors or inducers. Evaluate these patients at frequent intervals and consider dose adjustments until stable drug effects are achieved [see DRUG INTERACTIONS, and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Laboratory Monitoring

Not every urine drug test for “opioids” or “opiates” detects oxycodone reliably, especially those designed for in-office use. Further, many laboratories will report urine drug concentrations below a specified “cut-off” value as “negative”. Therefore, if urine testing for oxycodone is considered in the clinical management of an individual patient, ensure that the sensitivity and specificity of the assay is appropriate, and consider the limitations of the testing used when interpreting results.

Patient Counseling Information

See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide)

Abuse Potential

Inform patients that OxyContin contains oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance that is subject to abuse. Instruct patients not to share OxyContin with others and to take steps to protect OxyContin from theft or misuse.

Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

Discuss the risk of respiratory depression with patients, explaining that the risk is greatest when starting OxyContin or when the dose is increased. Advise patients how to recognize respiratory depression and to seek medical attention if they are experiencing breathing difficulties.

Accidental Exposure

Instruct patients to take steps to store OxyContin securely. Accidental exposure, especially in children, may result in serious harm or death. Advise patients to dispose of unused OxyContin by flushing the tablets down the toilet.

Risks from Concomitant Use of Alcohol and other CNS Depressants

Inform patients that the concomitant use of alcohol with OxyContin can increase the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression. Instruct patients not to consume alcoholic beverages, as well as prescription and over-the-counter drug products that contain alcohol, during treatment with OxyContin.

Inform patients that potentially serious additive effects may occur if OxyContin is used with other CNS depressants, and not to use such drugs unless supervised by a health care provider.

Important Administration Instructions

Instruct patients how to properly take OxyContin, including the following:

  • OxyContin is designed to work properly only if swallowed intact. Taking cut, broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved OxyContin tablets can result in a fatal overdose.
  • OxyContin tablets should be taken one tablet at a time.
  • Do not pre-soak, lick or otherwise wet the tablet prior to placing in the mouth.
  • Take each tablet with enough water to ensure complete swallowing immediately after placing in the mouth.

Inform patients that OxyContin may cause orthostatic hypotension and syncope. Instruct patients how to recognize symptoms of low blood pressure and how to reduce the risk of serious consequences should hypotension occur (e.g., sit or lie down, carefully rise from a sitting or lying position).

Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery

Inform patients that OxyContin may impair the ability to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car or operating heavy machinery. Advise patients not to perform such tasks until they know how they will react to the medication.


Advise patients of the potential for severe constipation, including management instructions and when to seek medical attention.


Inform patients that anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in OxyContin. Advise patients how to recognize such a reaction and when to seek medical attention.


Advise female patients that OxyContin can cause fetal harm and to inform the prescriber if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Healthcare professionals can telephone Purdue Pharma's Medical Services Department (1-888726-7535) for information on this product.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


No animal studies to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of oxycodone have been conducted.


Oxycodone was genotoxic in the mouse lymphoma assay at concentrations of 50 mcg/mL or greater with metabolic activation and at 400 mcg/mL or greater without metabolic activation. Clastogenicity was observed with oxycodone in the presence of metabolic activation in one chromosomal aberration assay in human lymphocytes at concentrations greater than or equal to 1250 mcg/mL at 24 but not 48 hours of exposure. In a second chromosomal aberration assay with human lymphocytes, no structural clastogenicity was observed either with or without metabolic activation; however, in the absence of metabolic activation, oxycodone increased numerical chromosomal aberrations (polyploidy). Oxycodone was not genotoxic in the following assays: Ames S. typhimurium and E. coli test with and without metabolic activation at concentrations up to 5000 μg/plate, chromosomal aberration test in human lymphocytes (in the absence of metabolic activation) at concentrations up to 1500 μg/mL, and with activation after 48 hours of exposure at concentrations up to 5000 μg/mL, and in the in vivo bone marrow micronucleus assay in mice (at plasma levels up to 48 μg/mL).

Impairment of Fertility

In a study of reproductive performance, rats were administered a once daily gavage dose of the vehicle or oxycodone hydrochloride (0.5, 2, and 8 mg/kg). Male rats were dosed for 28 days before cohabitation with females, during the cohabitation and until necropsy (2-3 weeks post-cohabitation). Females were dosed for 14 days before cohabitation with males, during cohabitation and up to gestation day 6. Oxycodone hydrochloride did not affect reproductive function in male or female rats at any dose tested ( ≤ 8 mg/kg/day).

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category B

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of oxycodone use during pregnancy. Based on limited human data in the literature, oxycodone does not appear to increase the risk of congenital malformations. In animal reproduction and developmental toxicology studies, no evidence of fetal harm was observed. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, oxycodone should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.

Teratogenic Effects

The effect of oxycodone in human reproduction has not been adequately studied. Studies with oral doses of oxycodone hydrochloride in rats up to 8 mg/kg/day and rabbits up to 125 mg/kg/day, equivalent to 0.5 and 2.0 times an adult human dose of 160 mg/day, respectively on a mg/m² basis, did not reveal evidence of harm to the fetus due to oxycodone. In a pre- and postnatal toxicity study, female rats received oxycodone during gestation and lactation. There were no long-term developmental or reproductive effects in the pups [see Nonclinical Toxicology].

Non-Teratogenic Effects

Oxycodone hydrochloride was administered orally to female rats during gestation and lactation in a pre- and postnatal toxicity study. There were no drug-related effects on reproductive performance in these females or any long-term developmental or reproductive effects in pups born to these rats. Decreased body weight was found during lactation and the early post-weaning phase in pups nursed by mothers given the highest dose used (6 mg/kg/day, equivalent to approximately 0.4-times an adult human dose of 160 mg/day, on a mg/m² basis). However, body weight of these pups recovered.

Labor and Delivery

Opioids cross the placenta and may produce respiratory depression and psycho-physiologic effects in neonates. OxyContin is not recommended for use in women immediately prior to and during labor, when use of shorter-acting analgesics or other analgesic techniques are more appropriate. Occasionally, opioid analgesics may prolong labor through actions which temporarily reduce the strength, duration and frequency of uterine contractions. However this effect is not consistent and may be offset by an increased rate of cervical dilatation, which tends to shorten labor.

Closely observe neonates whose mothers received opioid analgesics during labor for signs of respiratory depression. Have a specific opioid antagonist, such as naloxone or nalmefene, available for reversal of opioid-induced respiratory depression in the neonate.

Nursing Mothers

Oxycodone has been detected in breast milk. Instruct patients not to undertake nursing while receiving OxyContin. Do not initiate OxyContin therapy while nursing because of the possibility of sedation or respiratory depression in the infant.

Withdrawal signs can occur in breast-fed infants when maternal administration of an opioid analgesic is stopped, or when breast-feeding is stopped.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of OxyContin in pediatric patients below the age of 18 years have not been established.

Geriatric Use

In controlled pharmacokinetic studies in elderly subjects (greater than 65 years) the clearance of oxycodone was slightly reduced. Compared to young adults, the plasma concentrations of oxycodone were increased approximately 15% [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Of the total number of subjects (445) in clinical studies of oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release tablets, 148 (33.3%) were age 65 and older (including those age 75 and older) while 40 (9.0%) were age 75 and older. In clinical trials with appropriate initiation of therapy and dose titration, no untoward or unexpected adverse reactions were seen in the elderly patients who received oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release tablets. Thus, the usual doses and dosing intervals may be appropriate for elderly patients. However, reduce the starting dose to 1/3 to ½ the usual dosage in debilitated, non-opioid-tolerant patients. Respiratory depression is the chief risk in elderly or debilitated patients, usually the result of large initial doses in patients who are not tolerant to opioids, or when opioids are given in conjunction with other agents that depress respiration. Titrate the dose of OxyContin cautiously in these patients.

Hepatic Impairment

A study of OxyContin in patients with hepatic impairment demonstrated greater plasma concentrations than those seen at equivalent doses in persons with normal hepatic function. Therefore, in the setting of hepatic impairment, start dosing patients at 1/3 to ½ the usual starting dose followed by careful dose titration [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Renal Impairment

In patients with renal impairment, as evidenced by decreased creatinine clearance ( < 60 mL/min), the concentrations of oxycodone in the plasma are approximately 50% higher than in subjects with normal renal function. Follow a conservative approach to dose initiation and adjust according to the clinical situation [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Gender Differences

In pharmacokinetic studies with OxyContin, opioid-na´ve females demonstrate up to 25% higher average plasma concentrations and greater frequency of typical opioid adverse events than males, even after adjustment for body weight. The clinical relevance of a difference of this magnitude is low for a drug intended for chronic usage at individualized dosages, and there was no male/female difference detected for efficacy or adverse events in clinical trials.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

Chronic maternal use of oxycodone during pregnancy can affect the fetus with subsequent withdrawal signs. Neonatal withdrawal syndrome presents as irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea and failure to gain weight. The onset, duration and severity of neonatal withdrawal syndrome vary based on the drug used, duration of use, the dose of last maternal use, and rate of elimination of drug by the newborn. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, may be life-threatening and should be treated according to protocols developed by neonatology experts.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/26/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


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