Dangerous Interactions With Oxycodone and Other Commonly Prescribed Drugs Pose Threat, Public Citizen Says

Sept. 1, 2009

Dangerous Interactions With Oxycodone and Other Commonly Prescribed Drugs Pose Threat, Public Citizen Says

Oxycodone in Combination With 35 Drugs Listed on WorstPills.org Can Increase Toxicity or Decrease Effectiveness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Patients who take oxycodone for pain relief in combination with certain other widely prescribed drugs may be at risk of experiencing dramatically altered effects ranging from excessive sedation and respiratory depression to decreased painkilling effects, Public Citizen writes in the latest edition of Worst Pills, Best Pills News released today on WorstPills.org, the organization’s drug safety Web site.

Because it is an opioid drug, oxycodone (sold generically, as well as Oxycontin, Percodan and Tylox) is eliminated from the body by a specific liver enzyme (CYP3A4). This enzyme is commonly inhibited by other drugs, and when drugs that inhibit the enzyme are taken with oxycodone, the blood levels of oxycodone may increase by as much as four times the proper blood level, increasing the risk of side effects.  

Conversely, other drugs can increase the activity of this enzyme, causing the body to process and eliminate oxycodone more rapidly. As a result, the drug’s painkilling effects are reduced substantially.

“It is very important that people taking oxycodone know how the drug will interact with other medications they may be taking,” said Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “If you are taking oxycodone, along with one of the 35 drugs listed on Worstpills.org as either increasing oxycodone’s toxicity or reducing its analgesic effects, you should talk to your doctor to find alternatives that are less likely to interact.”

More than 14 million prescriptions were filled for oxycodone in 2008. The drugs that interact with oxycodone can be found in a table included with the article on Worstpills.org.

Worst Pills, Best Pills News is a monthly newsletter available in print and electronic formats through Public Citizen’s subscription Web site, . The article about oxycodone interactions will be available free for the next seven days. The site has other searchable information about the uses, risks and side effects associated with prescription medications.

WorstPills.org is an unbiased analysis of information from a variety of sources, including well-regarded medical journals and unpublished data obtained from the Food and Drug Administration, that allows Public Citizen to sound the alarm about potentially dangerous drugs long before they are banned by the federal government and to recommend safer drugs. For example, Public Citizen warned consumers about the dangers of Vioxx, ephedra, Baycol and Propulsid years before they were pulled from the market.

READ the article.