Think Twice Before Cutting a Pill in Half

You may want to cut a pill in half — maybe because you need a smaller dose, are trying to save on prescription costs, or because you have trouble swallowing larger pills. Cutting pills can be safe and effective, but there are things to consider. First and foremost, some pills can be safely split in half, while others can’t. That’s why it’s important to discuss your plan to split your pills with your physician or pharmacist first. A scored line normally means a pill can be split in half. There are exceptions, which is why it’s important to check with your pharmacist. If a pill doesn’t have a score line, it’s not meant to be split. Capsules, which typically contain liquids or tiny beads, can never be split. The same is true for tiny or asymmetrical pills, as there’s no good way to split them evenly. Extended-release pills are designed to release the active ingredient over a period of time, so splitting one can result in the medication being released all at once. If your pills are scored, only split one at a time. It can be tempting to go ahead and split an entire bottle of pills at once, but split pills can be affected by heat or humidity. Only cut one pill at a time, just before you need to take it, and be sure to use both halves before splitting the next pill. If you do plan on splitting your pills, buy a pill cutter. They are designed to give you an exact split, unlike a split with a knife. You also want to wash your hands beforehand and wash the pill cutter between uses if you’re using it to split more than one medication.