How to Cut Pills in Half, Important Dosage Information - GoodRx (2023)

Key takeaways:

  • There are many pills that can be cut in half. If your tablet has a score line on it, typically it’s OK to split it.

  • Extended-release tablets, capsules, and pills with special coatings on the outside usually can’t be split or opened.

  • Always check with a pharmacist before splitting any pills. They can tell you if cutting your pill is safe.


Reviewed by Mera Goodman, MD, FAAP

A common question that many people ask their pharmacists is, “can I split my pills?” There’s a variety of reasons people want to split their pills. Some people have trouble swallowing tablets that are too big. Others cut pills in half because their healthcare provider wants them to slightly raise or lower their current dose. People also split pills to save money on medication.

Whatever the reason, cutting tablets in half is common. But not all pills can be split. Sometimes, cutting your pill in half can completely change how the medication will work. Read on to learn which types of medications are safe to split, how to cut pills in half, and which ones you should avoid splitting.

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Common pills that can be safely cut in half

Many tablets are safe to split. There’s a good tip to remember that helps you know if it’s OK to cut a pill in half. Look at your tablet. Does it have a score (an indented line) down the center of one or both sides? If you see a score line, it should be safe to split it along that line.

Let’s go through some common medications that are safe to split.

Antidepressants that can be cut in half

Most antidepressant tablets are safe to split. Common examples include:

High blood pressure medications that can be cut in half

Many medications that help lower blood pressure can also be cut in half. Examples include:

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)

  • Hydrochlorothiazide

  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)

  • Losartan (Cozaar)

  • Metoprolol succinate (Toprol-XL)

  • Metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor)

  • Valsartan (Diovan)

Cholesterol medications that can be cut in half

Many cholesterol medications can also be cut in half. Some examples include:

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  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)

  • Gemfibrozil (Lopid)

  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor)

  • Simvastatin (Zocor)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications that can be cut in half

The most common ED medications can be safely split. This includes:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

  • Vardenafil (Levitra)

Diabetes medications that can be cut in half

Some tablets used to manage Type 2 diabetes can be cut in half as well. Examples include:

  • Glipizide (Glucotrol)

  • Glyburide (Diabeta)

  • Metformin (Glucophage)

Other common medications that can be cut in half

There are many other medications for other conditions that can be split into two. Some of the most popular examples include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

  • Aspirin

  • Levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid) — It’s not safe to open brand Tirosint capsules.

  • Prednisone

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  • Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

This is not an exhaustive list — there are many other medications that can be cut in half. You should always check with your pharmacist before splitting any tablets.

Can a pill that is not scored be cut in half?

If you don’t see a score, ask your pharmacist. Some tablets that have no score line are still OK to cut in half. But you need to ask so they can double check for you.

Pills that should never be cut in half

Medications that can’t be split in half are usually designed to release in the body in a certain way. These are called modified-release dosage forms. The most common example of this is an extended-release (ER or XR) tablet. Some modified-release tablets also have a special coating on the outside. This is usually done to protect the stomach.

Cutting these types of pills will make the medication come out of the tablet too fast or too early. This can make a medication less effective or raise the risk of side effects.

Examples of modified-release tablets include:

  • Enteric-coated aspirin (also called safety-coated)

  • Bupropion ER (Wellbutrin XL)

  • Pantoprazole (Protonix) — This is a delayed-release tablet even though it has no letters following its name.

  • Paroxetine ER (Paxil CR)

  • Venlafaxine ER (Effexor XR)

  • Verapamil ER (Calan SR)

Capsules often can’t be opened either. Similar to ER tablets, capsules are often designed to release medications at a certain time or location in the body. However, there are a number of capsules that you are allowed to open and sprinkle on soft foods, such as applesauce. It’s best to have your pharmacist double check whether your capsule can be opened or not.

Do pill splitters work and do I need one to cut my pills in half?

Yes, pill splitters work. It’s best to buy a pill splitter if you take oral medications on a regular basis. Pill splitters are very inexpensive and carried by most pharmacies. These devices will help you properly cut a pill.

Can you cut pills in half with a knife?

It’s recommended not to use a knife to split pills. Even scored tablets can be difficult to split into two perfect halves with a knife. It’s also very easy to cut yourself if you use a knife to cut pills in half. On the other hand, a pill splitter can help you make an even cut.

Can I cut my pills into even smaller sizes?

Only split your pills once unless directed otherwise on your prescription label. Most splittable pills are only designed to be cut in half. Many tablets will break unevenly or crumble if you cut them too small. However, there are a few tablets that can be cut into three or four pieces. Always check with your pharmacist about how many pieces you can split your medication into.

Can cutting my pills in half help me save on my medications?

If you’re filling your prescriptions through an insurance plan, splitting pills may not make a difference in the cost of your medications. Many insurance plans use a tier system for determining copays. Generic medications have the lowest copay, and brand-name medications have higher copays. It’s common for a month’s worth of medication to cost the same no matter what strength you’re prescribed.

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If you’re paying out of pocket for your medication, this tactic could save you money. Buying half the number of pills of a higher strength generally costs less. But sometimes, higher-strength pills can be much more expensive than lower-strength pills.

For example, let’s compare the costs of tadalafil (generic Cialis). The average retail cost of thirty 5 mg tablets is about $300. If you were to buy 15 tablets of the 10 mg strength to split them, the average cost would be much higher — over $800. Even with GoodRx coupons, getting more pills of the lower strength is less costly.

You’ll probably have to compare the costs of different strengths of your medication to see what would save you the most money.

What else you should know about cutting pills in half

Splitting pills can cause more problems in some cases. Keep the following in mind when it comes to cutting pills in half:

  • It’s possible for people who are prescribed a higher dose pill and told to take half, to forget to do so. This can result in taking a double dose of medication. Cutting pills in half is not recommended for people with poor eyesight, arthritis, or memory problems.

  • Don’t split pills in advance. Some pills may crumble or deteriorate after being split.

  • Medicine isn’t always distributed evenly throughout each tablet. So it’s important to take one half of the tablet for one dose and the other half for the next dose. This will help make sure you get the right dose more consistently.

The bottom line

Cutting pills in half can be helpful for people with swallowing issues or to help people save money. But splitting pills isn’t always safe to do. Medications that release medication slowly or have a special coating on the outside should never be split. But if your tablet has a score line, it’s most likely safe to cut it in half. Always double check with your pharmacist before splitting pills, so they can let you know for sure if this is OK.

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