February 01, 2019

Pill-splitting safety

There may be times that your doctor recommends dividing pills into more than one dose — a practice known as pill splitting or tablet splitting. It's a process that must be done carefully to ensure correct dosing. If your doctor has recommended pill splitting, follow these recommendations:

  • Split as recommended — Only split pills that your doctor or pharmacist says are OK to split. Most sustained- or extended- release medications — often those with "SR," "ER" or "XL" in the name — aren't meant to be split. An exception is metoprolol (Toprol XL), which can be split. Don't split drugs that have an enteric coating. Certain drugs also may be more prone to breakage or have active ingredients that are unevenly distributed, making splitting impractical or unsafe.
  • Look for score marks — If a tablet is approved for splitting, the tablet will be marked to indicate where to cut it.
  • Split one at a time — It may be tempting to tackle the entire bottle at once, but pills should only be split right before you take them. Split pills may be affected by heat, humidity and moisture.
  • Use a splitter — A small, inexpensive pill splitter can help you divide a pill evenly. These can be found in most pharmacies. If the shape or size of a particular pill doesn't allow for a splitter to work, ask your doctor or pharmacist the best way to divide it.
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