Question: Why can you cut or crush some tablets, but not others?


There are many reasons why you may need to cut your tablets. Prescribers may ask patients to cut tablets in order to slowly go up or down on a medication dose.

Additionally, now more than ever patients are looking for cost-cutting ideas and time-saving tricks to reduce the price of prescription medications. Many patients have resorted to cutting/splitting their drug tablets to make their medication supply last as long as possible. However this may cause drugs to become ineffective, or even toxic, when you cut, crush, or open them.

This article will help you understand why not all tablets are safe and appropriate for you to cut, crush or open. This blog post is not intended to act as medical advice for whether you should or should not cut, crush, or open your medications. Always ask your pharmacist whether it is okay for you to cut, crush, or open your medications before doing so.

You should always ask your pharmacist before crushing, cutting or opening your medications. There are many different types of medications that may not be safe to cut, crush or open. These medications are specially formulated to release slowly over time, delay drug release until it reaches the intestines, or they are designed to dissolve in your mouth. The special formulation medication products may have different names based how they are made (e.g. Wellbutrin XL, Depakote ER, Bayer EC).

Other Useful Facts

  • Always talk to your pharmacist about how you should safely take your medications
  • “Scored” tablets have a line imprinted down the center. Ask your pharmacist whether the drug is safe to split.
  • If your pharmacist tells you to split your medication, use a tablet cutter to split the tablet. Splitting tablets by hand may be difficult and lead to getting too much or too little of your medication.

Prepared By: Tara O’Connell PharmD Candidate 2021