Lortab, Norco and Vicodin are three prescription medications that are commonly used to relieve moderate to severe pain. All three of these medications contain an opiate pain relieving agent called hydrocodone, and the common over-the-counter pain reliever known as acetaminophen, Tylenol, or Paracetamol.
In fact, there are also many other medications that are comprised of a mix of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Pain relievers that have hydrocodone and acetaminophen include: Co-Gesic®; Lorcet®; Lortab®; Margesic® H; Maxidone®; Norco®; Stagesic™; Vicodin®; Xodol®; Zamicet™; Zydone®.
Though there are many medicines with the same pain relieving agents, Lortab, Norco and Vicodin are the three that are commonly prescribed. Though Lortab, Norco and Vicodin contain the same two active medicinal ingredients, differences do exist between these prescription medications.
All three medicines use a form of hydrocodone called Hydrocodone bitartrate. Lortab, Norco and Vicodin are all available in tablet form. However, Lortab is the only one of these common prescription analgesics that is also available as a liquid elixir.
The most significant differences between Lortab, Norco and Vicodin is in the acetaminophen component of these medications. The dose of hydrocodone in Lortab can vary depending on how the prescription is written. However, the dose of acetaminophen provided by a tablet of Lortab stays at 500mg no matter the strength of hydrocodone used.
Similarly, a physician will write a prescription for Norco and then indicate specifically how much hydrocodone each tablet should contain. Importantly, the acetaminophen component of Norco stays at 325 mg no matter the strength of hydrocodone used. Thus, any one tablet of Norco will always have less acetaminophen than any one tablet of Lortab.
Vicodin differs from both Lortab and Norco in that the acetaminophen concentration will vary depending on the form of Vicodin that is prescribed. Vicodin has specifically lettered tablets that indicate the amount of hydrocodone and acetaminophen the tablets will contain. Vicodin, Vicodin ES, and Vicodin HP are the available formulations.
It is important to note that the amount of acetaminophen will vary with the specific form of Vicodin used. Vicodin has concentrations of Hydrocodone bitartrate in 5 mg and acetaminophen in 500 mg. Vicodin ES has concentrations of Hydrocodone bitartrate in 7.5 mg and acetaminophen in 750 mg. Finally, Vicodin HP has concentrations of Hydrocodone bitartrate in 10 mg and acetaminophen in 660 mg.
This means that Norco has the least amount of acetaminophen of these three analgesics. Vicodin and Lortab have the same amount of acetaminophen per pill. Whereas, Vicodin ES and Vicodin HP contain more acetaminophen than either Lortab or Norco.
The acetaminophen in these prescription pain pills is an important consideration. Acetominophen is highly toxic to the liver in high doses. Work with your physician to determine whether Norco, Lortab or Vicodin is right for you.