One aspect of childhood, or maybe life in general, that isn’t enjoyed is having to take drugs. Whether we had to take injections or oral drugs like tablets and syrups, it wasn’t ever a fun time- except you’re talking about Vitamin C or Multivitamins syrup. For some people, even this was torture. At some point, you may have had to break tablets for yourself or crush a tablet for a child who simply can’t swallow a pill.
However, with the rise in resistance to medication and recorded adverse effects due to drug use, it is important to make sure you are using all forms in the safest way.
Should you Split/ Break Your Tablets?
Tablets are a form of oral (taken by mouth) medication and are the most common form of solid medication. They often come in a round form and some come with lines in the middle called ‘score or breaker lines’.
The fact is that these lines on drugs are used by manufacturers to majorly for aesthetic purposes or to protect the tablet from stress fractures. In some cases, the line is used when the patient needs half of the dose the drug provides.
Tablet-splitting is not a totally bad choice, as it can be a more affordable option for patients. However, if done wrongly, it can be harmful.
According to the FDA, scoring may affect the functioning content, weight and disintegration of the tablet. However, tablet-splitting may be necessary, due to costs or unavailability of the specific dose as a tablet.
If must split your tablets, make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Do not split time or extended-release drugs. Ever. These come with SR, CR, ‘Slow’, ‘Retard’, XL, XR, CD, CC, in their titles.
- Do not split your tablets with a pair of scissors or kitchen knives. This could cause an uneven splitting. Always make use of a proper tablet cutting device to get the right cut.
- Do not break in bulk. Split only one tablet at a time and keep the remainder in an airtight container, away from light.
- Always speak with your pharmacist concerning the safety of splitting your medication and if you have any conditions or concerns about splitting your medication.
There are different kinds of tablets, so while it may be acceptable to crush some kinds, others are simply not advised including:
- Effervescent tablets that should be dissolved in water before use.
- Sustained-release tablets which may have different layers to be released slowly or at different times.
- Enteric-coated tablets that are covered to protect the stomach from breaking them down before they get to do their point of action.
Generally, we advise that a different dosage form or route be used, instead of crushing. For example, instead of crushing half a paracetamol tablet for a child, stick to giving a syrup/ suspension. These are better-tasting and safer for the child. You are also better assured that the child is receiving the right dose, not an underdose or overdose.
It is important to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist whenever you consider crushing or splitting your tablets to make sure you get the best from all your drugs.