Prescription And Medication

Difference between Norco and Lortab

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Norco and Lortab are very similar prescription medications used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Both analgesic medications contain hydrocodone, a narcotic pain reliever.  Lortab and Norco also both contain the over-the-counter pain relieving agent known as acetaminophen, Tylenol, or Parecetamol.

The analgesics Norco and Lortab share are the same active medicinal agents as many other prescription pain relieving agents.  Other drugs that contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone as the active agents include: Co-Gesic®; Lorcet®; Margesic® H; Maxidone®; Stagesic™; Vicodin®; Xodol®; Zamicet™; Zydone®.

Norco and Lortab both specifically use a form of hydrocodone called Hydrocodone bitartrate.  Norco only comes in table form.  However, Lortab comes both a liquid syrup and a tablet form.

The Lortab liquid elixir contains 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 500 mg of acetaminophen per 15 mL of liquid.  The other ingredients in the Lortab elixir are ethanol 7%, propylene glycol and a tropical fruit punch flavor.

The tablet form of Norco can contain varying amounts of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, as can the tablet form of Lortab. A prescription for Norco or Lortab should always specifically indicate how much hydrocodone the physician meant for each tablet to contain. 

Importantly, the acetaminophen component of any one tablet of Norco stays at 325 mg, no matter the strength of hydrocodone used.  Likewise, the dose of acetaminophen provided by a single tablet of Lortab stays at 500mg no matter the strength of hydrocodone used.

Because Lortab contains more Tylenol than Norco, these medications are never directly interchangeable.  Additionally, the strength of the hydrocodone components will vary.

There are three available strengths of Norco. One formulation has 5 mg of  Hydrocodone bitartrate, the second has 7.5 mg of Hydrocodone bitartrate, and the third Norco preparation has 10 mg of Hydrocodone bitartrate.

Lortab has four available strengths.  Similar to Norco, there are formulations that contain Hydrocodone bitartrate in 5 mg, 7.5 mg or 10 mg per tablet. However, Lortab has a fourth option, a tablet that contains only 2.5 mg of Hydrocodone bitartrate.

While Lortab and Norco are almost identical medications. There is some difference in the cost of the prescription medicines.  The following costs are from the drug database Lexi-Comp Online.  The dosages indicate the hydrocodon-acetominphen concentration.

Tablets (Norco) 5-325 mg (30 pills): $43.04

Tablets (Norco) 7.5-325 mg (30 pills): $48.29

Tablets (Norco) 10-325 mg (30 pills): $64.29

Tablets (Lortab 10) 10-500 mg (30 pills): $55.10

Tablets (Lortab 2.5) 2.5-500 mg (30 pills): $28.99

Tablets (Lortab 5) 5-500 mg (30 pills): $49.04

Tablets (Lortab 7.5) 7.5-500 mg (30 pills): $53.59

There are several differences between Lortab and Norco.  Be particularly careful about the acetaminophen component of these medications.  Acetominophen is highly toxic to the liver in high doses.  Work with your physician to determine whether Norco or Lortab is right for you. 

Source: Lexi-Comp Online. Accessed Mar 27, 2010.

More about this author: Nicole Evans M.D.

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