What In The World Is “Watson 3203”?

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Watson 3203 is a generic prescription drug manufactured by Watson Laboratories, Inc., a California-based subsidiary of ATeva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited.

Watson 3203

Used primarily to treat back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer-related pain and other types of moderate-to-severe pain that cannot be managed effectively with over-the-counter medications, Watson 3203 contains the same active ingredients as the prescription drugs Vicodin, Lorcet Plus, and Anexsia.

Each white, oval-shaped scored Watson 3203 is imprinted with “WATSON 3203” and contains 325 mg of acetaminophen and 7.5 mg of hydrocodone bitartrate. By comparison, each Vicodin tablet contains 300 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of hydrocodone bitartrate, while like Watson 3203, Vicodin ES is formulated with 7.5 mg of hydrocodone bitartrate (hydrocodone).

Because Watson 3203 contains hydrocodone, it is a Schedule II Controlled Substance in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This classification means that Watson 3203 has been deemed to “have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence”.

Other drugs in this class include OxyContin (oxycodone), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), and medications containing fentanyl.

How Watson 3203 Works

Watson 3203 is a narcotic-analgesic combination – that means it contains both a narcotic (hydrocodone) and an analgesic (acetaminophen). This type of drug works by both binding to opioid receptors to help block the perception of pain, and by inhibiting the inflammatory effect prostaglandins produced by cyclooxygenase (COX-2) enzymes.

According to The American Journal of Medicine, generally speaking, combination analgesics are believed to be more effective “than that obtained by doubling the dose” of either the narcotic or the analgesic, or by taking each medication separately.

Hydrocodone & Acetaminophen

Watson 3203 is one of four prescription drugs that contain both hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen per pill which are currently available in the United States. Two other drugs (2171 and 2172) contain 2.5 mg and 5 mg of hydrocodone respectively, and Watson 853 contains 10 mg of hydrocodone.

Watson 3203 Compared To Oxycodone

According to the results of an anonymous survey of 3520 opioid-dependent patients aged 18 years and older administered by the Washington University School of Medicine, adults who abuse prescription opioid drugs prefer oxycodone over hydrocodone-based medications such as Watson 3203.

According to the survey respondents who indicated a preference for oxycodone over hydrocodone, “oxycodone users said that hydrocodone produced an inferior high and that they were concerned with the safety of hydrocodone” due to the amount of acetaminophen in drugs like Watson 3203.

The survey also revealed distinct differences in the demographics between hydrocodone and oxycodone addicts. Abuse of hydrocodone-based drugs such as Vicodin and Watson 3203 was most prevalent among females over the age of 45 who obtained their drugs through either a valid or forged doctor’s prescription, while oxycodone users were more likely to be younger, male, and obtain their drugs from street-level dealers.

Addictive Properties

Because Watson 3203 contains the narcotic hydrocodone, Watson 3203 users are at risk of developing both physical and psychological dependence.

Hydrocodone is known to help decrease anxiety and trigger feelings of relaxation, calmness, and even mild euphoria. Over time, hydrocodone users may need to take increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effects and prevent the onset of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, severe physical pain, and panic attacks.

Public awareness of the highly addictive nature of prescription narcotic-analgesic combination medications such as Watson 3203 increased when Kelly Osborne, daughter of heavy metal singer Ozzy Osborne and talk show host Sharron Osborne, revealed her ongoing struggles with Vicodin abuse which started at age 13.

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