Harvard Men's Health Watch

When is it okay to split medication in half?

Ask the doctor

Q. I take daily medication. Is it ever okay to split my pills in half? If so, what is the best way to do this?

A. Splitting pills in half are often necessary when you need to adjust or lower a dose. It can also be a way to save money on prescriptions: you purchase high-dose pills, which often have similar pricing, and take only half a pill at one time.

However, splitting is not safe for all pills, so you should always discuss this with your pharmacist or doctor. Pills with special coatings and time-release medications should never be split. In general, most pills for blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression are good candidates to split. Don’t split your pills all at once, however, since moisture and heat may affect half-pills differently than whole pills.

It is also important to divide the pill correctly into two even halves to ensure equal doses. A pill splitter is the best way, as this device holds the pill in place and allows for an even cut. Pill splitters can be purchased at most pharmacies.

—William Kormos, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Men’s Health Watch

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