Comparative Analgesic Efficacy of Oxycodone/Acetaminophen vs Codeine/Acetaminophen for Short-Term Pain Management Following ED Discharge

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6 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the hypothesis that oxycodone/acetaminophen provides analgesia superior to codeine/acetaminophen following emergency department (ED) discharge. Design: Prospective, randomized, double-blind, trial. Setting: Adult inner city ED. Subjects: ED patients with acute extremity pain who were discharged home. Methods: Patients randomized to oxycodone/acetaminophen (5 mg/325 mg) or codeine/acetaminophen (30 mg/300 mg). The primary outcome, obtained via telephone one day after ED discharge, was the between-group difference in improvement in numerical rating scale (NRS) pain scores over a 2-hour period following the most recent ingestion of study drug. Secondary outcomes included proportion of patients with >50% pain reduction, side-effect profile, and patient satisfaction. Results: Two hundred and forty patients were enrolled. Mean baseline NRS scores were 7.9 in both groups. Mean decrease over 2 hours was 4.5 NRS units in the oxycodone/acetaminophen group vs 4.2 NRS units in the codeine/acetaminophen group, for a clinically and statistically nonsignificant difference of 0.2 NRS units (95% CI -0.4-0.9 NRS units). Similarly, 66% vs 61% achieved >50% pain relief for a nonsignificant difference of 5% (95% CI -8% to 17%). Side-effect profile and patient satisfaction were similar. Conclusion: Our hypothesis that oxycodone/acetaminophen provides analgesia superior to codeine/acetaminophen was rejected. Although pain within each group was reduced by more than half, the between-group difference was not significant. Pending independent validation, these unexpected findings suggest that codeine/acetaminophen, a Schedule III agent, may be a clinically reasonable outpatient opioid alternative to oxycodone/acetaminophen, a more tightly restricted Schedule II agent thought to be more prone to misuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2397-2404
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015



  • Codeine/Acetaminophen
  • Emergency Department
  • Oxycodone/Acetaminophen
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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