Pill splitting may be a way to save on prescription costs, since a 200-mg dose typically costs the same as a 100-mg dose of a particular drug. But it's essential to ask your doctor and pharmacist whether your medicine can be split safely, because it's easy to split pills unevenly, and for people with certain medical conditions, like epilepsy and some heart problems, an inadequate dose can be dangerous. Correct dosage is also essential for hormone medications.

Other pills you shouldn't split:

  • Extended-release pills that deliver medication over time
  • Combination tablets that contain more than one medication
  • Pills coated to protect the stomach from irritation
  • Pills that crumble easily or are awkwardly shaped
  • Pills that are difficult to swallow because of bitter taste
  • Powder or gel capsules

That said, other medications can be split, like sildenafil (Viagra), certain blood pressure pills, many antidepressants and most statins. Pills that are scored to make cutting easier indicate approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to split the tablets.

Don't split pills with your hands or a knife—this could lead to inaccurate doses. Buy a pill splitter at your local drugstore. Most cost $5–10; ask your pharmacist for a demonstration.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 14 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015