Oral tablets are usually manufactured in patients' most commonly prescribed strengths.
That means that the dose of each tablet is the dose you're supposed to take at a given time, and all you have to do is take the medication as prescribed by your healthcare practitioner.
But what if the dose of your tablets isn't correct, or you have some other reason for wanting to split your medication?
There are some situations where you might require half tablets. Here's how to determine if you can safely split that pill.
There are times when you might have a good reason to consider splitting pills that you've been prescribed. Some of the most common reasons are:
While these reasons are legitimate, it doesn't necessarily mean splitting your tablets is necessarily safe or advisable.
It's important to understand the potential risks involved. If you do decide to split a pill with the go-ahead from your healthcare practitioner, you should also make sure you're doing it correctly.
Splitting pills isn't always as straightforward as it sounds. Some common risks include:
If you're thinking about splitting a tablet, make sure you discuss it with your healthcare practitioner first to make sure it's okay.
The pill should be suitable for splitting, easy to split and be split correctly. We'll go over things to keep in mind if you are splitting a pill.
The most likely reason you might do this is if your exact dose is not accessible and the obtainable dosage strengths are not appropriate for you.
Most of the time, you won't encounter this situation because commercially available strengths tend to be the most commonly prescribed dosages.
The most common indication that a pill can be safely halved is if there is a line down the middle. This is referred to as a scored tablet.
The scoring not only indicated that splitting the pill is possible but also makes it physically easier to do so.
The scored line is a bit like a perforation in a piece of paper, making it easier to split along that line.
It's also important that you always discuss splitting tablets with your healthcare practitioner before doing it, even if your pills are scored.
Some pills should not be halved under any circumstances. These include:
The first step if you're considering halving a tablet is to talk to your healthcare practitioner. They can help you determine if tablet splitting is safe and advisable in your specific situation.
They may also prescribe other medications based on doses they believe you're taking, so they must always have up-to-date information.
If you are splitting a tablet, the best way to do it is to use a specialized device or pill cutter.
These aren't necessarily fool-proof, but they're most likely to produce a clean, even split. Sometimes, even if your tablets are scored, you may find they don't consistently split evenly and dispense exact doses.
If you're splitting tablets, these best practices can help ensure you're getting the correct dose safely.
The most likely issue you may encounter if you halve your tablets is taking the wrong dose.
You may not be splitting the tablets evenly, or some of the medication may be crumbling away each time you cut a tablet.
Having to discard medication that was improperly split can be both annoying and costly.
Finally, splitting tablets can start to get confusing, especially if you take multiple medications. You may not remember which ones you're supposed to split.
While tablet splitting is possible with some medications, it's usually best to avoid having to do it.
If you do need to split pills, make sure you talk about it with your healthcare practitioner first and take care to follow best practices when it's time to split them.
Always let any healthcare practitioner know if you take a different dose than the one listed on your prescription label.
In case there is a potential drug interference, they should know about what could be impacted by the dose.
When taking a new medication or changing your dose, it's normal to have questions. Here are some of the most common questions about splitting tablets.
Yes, you can sometimes halve a tablet, but it's not always possible or advisable.
If your tablet has a score or line down the middle, this indicates that it's most likely possible to split it in half.
You should always talk to your healthcare practitioner first before splitting a tablet, even if it has a score.
The best way to break a pill score is with a tablet splitting device.
These are made to handle pills specifically, so you're far less likely to end up with a bunch of dust or a crumbled tablet.
Don't use kitchen scissors or a knife since those blades are too thick to cleanly split a tablet.
Most pill splitters have a small compartment that you place the pill in.
Make sure the scored line is lined up with the blade, then push the blade down to split the tablet.
Some pills should never be cut in half.
These include those with enteric coatings or those that are labelled as "timed-release."
Tiny tablets, asymmetrical tablets, and gel capsules also shouldn't be split.
Scored tablets are generally safe to split, as long as you're following instructions and discussing it with your healthcare practitioner first.
A scored pill is a pill with a line that makes it easier to split in half accurately.
The line down the middle makes it easier to correctly align the blade of your pill-splitter so that you can know you're accurately splitting a tablet in half.
It also makes splitting the pill a bit easier mechanically and generally indicates that it's a type of pill that is safe to split.
The Felix Health Guide is educational content providing clinically-accurate, balanced information on different ailments and treatments. Some ailments, medications, and treatments mentioned in the content may not be offered by Felix.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.