So the week between Christmas and New Years tends to be a bit slow on the news front. I suppose manufacturers don’t want to share the glory of their new wonder-drug with Santa, shopping mania, overeating and resolution-making Americans. So it is probably a good time to answer a few questions that happen to have rolled in over the past week. For some reason, questions about painkillers like Vicodin and Norco seemed to be popular this week. I guess, for some, the Holidays can be a pain? Anyway…
Most of my questions come from patient emails, or from my articles posted over at Hubpages. They are all real questions from “supposedly” real people (unless, of course, they happen to have a pet Tarantula that can type). Do you have a question? Shoot me an email from my contact page. I’d be happy to try and help. Anyway, here they are with my answers.
QUESTION 1 FROM JIM: Hi I am prescribed vicodin 5/500 120x/month for my arthritis
I have a question, I wanted something with less acepthemanophen and was prescribed vicodin 5/325, I went to the pharmacy and they said there was no such thing, so I told my doctor and he prescribed me vicodin 5/300 , they are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. My question is how come the pharmacy said there is no such thing as vicodin 5/325 , and also is there a generic version of 5/300 ? Is it because on the script my doctor writes “vicodin” and not hydrocodone ? Please help me I can’t spend too much money on my medication
ANSWER: Here’s the deal. “Vicodin” does not come in 5/325. It never has. However, “Norco” was available in that strength – and if the MD had written for “Norco” you would likely have been given the generic with 5/325 and it would have been pretty inexpensive. Vicodin now comes in 5/300. There are NO generics for this strength yet – thus it is quite pricey. My advice would be to either go BACK to the 5/500 (at 4 per day that is only 2,000mg acetaminophen daily – well below the normal limit) or ask for Norco 5/325 – and you will get the generic. Hope that helps!
QUESTION 2 FROM ELTON: On the directions for Hydrocodone, Acetaminophen 7.5/500 it says not to freeze or keep in the refrigerator. Why?
ANSWER: All prescription drugs must be properly tested for stability and manufacturers must provide reasonable expiration dates which correspond with ideal storage conditions. They must provide storage instructions as a part of the clinical data they present to the FDA. So, for most products, manufacturers conduct their tests based upon “room temperature.” Therefore, typical recommendations are to store medications at 15° to 30°C (59° to 86°F). Will freezing or refrigeration destroy the medication? Maybe not. But they simply provide no guidelines for such situations. I usually tell people to keep most meds at room temperature. If it gets VERY hot and room temp goes way up, refrigeration may be a better option than exposure to excessive heat. Hope that helps.
QUESTION 3 FROM JANIE (she typed in all caps, but I don’t think she was yelling at me…but maybe she was): I WAS ON LORTAB 10, NOW I’M TAKING NORCO 10, THE LORTABS GAVE ME ENERG THE NORCO JUST MAKE ME SLEEPY. IS THEIR ANYTHING I CAN TAKE THAT WILL GIVE ME ENERGY? IF I GET STILL I FALL ASLEEP, I DON’T SEEM TO GET ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED ANYMORE. WHAT CAN I DO?
ANSWER: First, the only difference is that the Norco has slightly less acetaminophen. It is likely (though not certain) that the changes in energy are due to something else. Are you sleeping well? Eating & drinking well? Changes in diet? Under any particular stress? Coming down with a cold? Any other major life changes recently? If all these are normal, consider talking to your doctor about a medication change. Maybe a lower dose will be sufficient for pain, without causing the drowsiness. Bottom line is that if you have noticed this change – you should make an appointment and discuss it with your MD. Until then, be sure to eat a good balance of calories: fresh fruits & veggies, lean meats, not too much in the way of sugary foods and snacks. Try a little moderate exercise if this is not a part of your routine already, and if it is safe for you. Best wishes.
Disclaimer: The advice given in answer to any patient question is NOT to substitute for the advice, counsel, directions, instructions or wishes of your own personal physician and friendly local pharmacist. There, I said it. My lawyer will be able to sleep tonight now.