Consumer Tips \ Inside the Medicine Chest

Which Medications Are Safe to Split

Do you have trouble swallowing pills?

Many people are splitting pills in half to make them easier to take—and easier on the wallet —but that's not always a good idea.

So here's the scoop on which pills can be safely split, based on the type of coating and how the pill acts in the body.

Some drugs, like heart medications, require a very specific dose. If you split them up unevenly you might not be getting the right dose at the right time.

Extended-release pills, like calcium channel blockers, can't be cut up because the tablet casing itself is thing that makes its slow-release system tick. One handy way to determine if your medicine is a candidate for splitting is this, check out its name.

If it ends with SR, ER, XL or CD— it's mostly likely a time-release medication. And those initials are telling you it's probably a NO-NO to split.

If your pills are the kind that can be broken up, make sure you do it safely and evenly by using a pill splitter instead of a razor blade. You can find these at your local pharmacy.

If the pieces are still too hard to swallow, some people crush up their pills.

But the same rules apply as with pill splitting. If you crush up those time-release babies you'll be dumping the whole dose in your bloodstream all at once, when it's really supposed to be delivered over the course of 24 hours. Check with your pharmacist to see if it's okay to crush.

There may be other ways to make pill swallowing easier—like getting it in liquid form—or maybe a generic brand would save you money— your pharmacist and doctor will tell you what's right for you!

This entry last modified on: January 28, 2013 2:36 PM

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About the Video

Are your medications too big to swallow? Pharmacist Doug White shows you which prescription drugs you can safely split.


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