What is the pharmacological action of vicodin?

Answer: Vicodin is a combination of the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen.


Vicodin is a combination of two drugs.

Hydrocodone is an opioid receptor agonist. It strongly activates the mu opioid receptor, and weakly activates the delta and kappa opioid receptors. Activation of mu opioid receptors inhibit the GABA interneurons in the periaqueductal gray, resulting in increased excitation of the descending analgesia pathway.

Acetaminophen is a cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitor. COX enhances the perception of pain, so decreasing COX levels lessens the intensity of painful stimuli.

Because Vicodin has high abuse potential, it is listed as a Schedule 2 drug in the US by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Vicodin is often prescribed as a painkiller following surgery or a traumatic injury. It is rapidly absorbed by the stomach. Analgesia is often observed within 30 minutes, and lasts up to 4-6 hours.