Is it OK to Split My Pills in Half?

Published: July 11, 2022
Melody Berg
By Melody Berg, PharmD, MPH, BCPS

Tablet-splitting is a common way for patients to save money on their medications. Many pills have a groove or score mark down the middle, making cutting the pill in half easier. Other medications cannot be split, and it may be unsafe to do so.

A pharmacist with advanced training in medication safety offers the following advice on how to split your pills safely.

Can I cut my pill in half?
Yes. Many medications, such as cholesterol medications and medications prescribed for depression, can be cut in half. As a general rule, if the tablet has a score mark or groove down the middle, it can be split in half. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist before breaking your pills in half.

What is the line in the middle of a pill?
The line down the middle of a pill is placed there by the medication’s manufacturer to show that the pill can be split in half. This groove or indentation is called scoring. This imprint also helps with splitting the pill because it shows you exactly where the halfway point is.

Can a pill that is not scored be cut in half?
Some tablets without the score may be cut in half, but you should check with your pharmacist to see if it is safe.

Which medications should not be split in half?
Some pills can’t be divided in half accurately. These medications include delayed- or extended-release tablets with a protective coating. Capsules containing powdered medications or tablets with a hard coating should not be split because the medication may spill out or crack into pieces, leaving you with the wrong dosage.

Medications that you should not cut in half include:

  • Contraceptives
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Combination medications that contain more than one active ingredient
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-seizure medications

Three steps for safely splitting pills

  1. Talk to your pharmacist first to make sure your medication can be split without reducing its effectiveness or causing side effects.
  2. Use a pill-splitter, which is a special tool designed to cut pills. It can be purchased at most pharmacies. Don’t use a kitchen knife or scissors.
  3. Split pills one at a time because some medications lose their effectiveness if exposed to the air after they are split.

Summary
Always check with your pharmacist or doctor before splitting your pills. Click here for more information about the dos and don’ts of tablet-splitting.

 

 

 

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