Vicodin® and Duct Tape

Brad G. Philbrick
3 min readDec 10, 2020


In my years working in a pharmacy, two products stand as sales leaders, they are the proverbial glue that holds us together, and for many, they cannot live without either. What are these two valued products, these essential life entities for so many human beings? It’s Vicodin™ and duct tape!

Vicodin™, as many know, is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. Hydrocodone is one of the several drugs in a class known as opioids or narcotics.

It is the number one dispensed prescription in the United States.

Many have taken hydrocodone on a short-term basis to relieve pain after surgery or a significant injury. Many have taken hydrocodone in prescribed liquid formulations for relief of cough.

I attempt to show compassion for my patients when it comes to pain. Chronic pain is continuous pain that is a challenge. What does one do when ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen doesn’t seem to help? The patient then gets a prescription for hydrocodone; it helps. They use up their refills, and they tell their physician they need another prescription. They become hooked. I see they come in month after month for their hydrocodone. What is a health care professional to do? Opiate addiction is a significant health concern across the globe. But the overuse of acetaminophen has another grave problem — liver damage. The medical term for this malady is acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity.

Duct tape or duck tape? If we go back to its origins, we call it duck tape. Researchers developed the original silver cloth adhesive during World War II. The tape resisted water and was used as a sealant to protect ammunition cases. Soldiers called it duck tape as the water rolled off this material much like “water off a duck’s back.”

Soon after the war, duck tape manufacturers sold their adhesive marvel in hardware stores for household repairs. Duct tape found its way into construction for wrapping air ducts. Thus, it then became known as duct tape.

One evening I was working in my home office, and my son appeared. He had a look of happiness and accomplishment. “Dad! Wanna see what I made? “he quipped.

“Sure! “ was my reply. The crafty young man proudly presented me with his duct tape wallet that he created. The wallet impressed me. The billfold, a trifold version, possessed all the features of a cowhide leather billfold. It was functional, hip, and trendy.

Duct tape has hit pop culture. There is colored duct tape, patterned, and designer. Many duct tape uses continue to be created; make a pencil case, a game boy or cell phone case, a backpack, flowers, and a baseball cap.

Ok, back to medicine. There are studies on the use of duct tape for wart removal. I want to clarify that I am not suggesting this or condoning it; there is no substantial proof of its effectiveness. This wart treatment has a name. Duct Tape Occlusion Therapy or DTOT.

Is it no wonder then that I come to this absurd and off the wall idea that all you need is Vicodin and duct tape?



Brad G. Philbrick

Brad earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.