Pill Cutter vs Knife – What To Use To Split Pills

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Splitting pills for your daily use might seem an easy decision. There are many pill cutters that are available in the market for serving this purpose. But there are many perspectives that you have to consider before concluding it.

A Pill Cutter

Does Your Pill Have A Score?

A score is a straight line on top of your pill. Does your medication have a score? Any tablet with a score indicates that the FDA has approved cutting it along the score. Sometimes, whether you can split or not is provided on the label insert of the bottle or box. An FDA approval guarantees that each part of the pill will have an equal distribution of medication.

FDA’s guidance on Scoring and Splitting pills can be found here.

Which Type of Pills Should Not be Split?

Whether your pills have a score or not, certain types of medications should not be split. Examples are pills that are meant for delayed-release, long-lasting, or contain a mix of active ingredients.

These active ingredients might be distributed unevenly in such medicines. Once you split them, the parts might not have the same composition.

Another type of pill that should not be cut is those with an outside coating to protect your stomach. Also, chemotherapy medicines and blood thinners should never be split.

If your pills are too small and easily get crumbled, your attempts to cut them in half will go in vain.


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Did You Consult Your Doctor Or Pharmacist?

Owing to the above reasons, it would be wise if you consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist. They know your health background and the type of medication that you are using. They are the most knowledgeable people and provide suggestions to suit your needs. Your doctor can offer you help if the –

  • Brittleness and protective coating of the tablet
  • If the tablet is too hard or soft 
  • If the tablet is timed or extended-release
  • If the tablet can’t be split (such as capsules)

If you want to save money by getting a higher dose tablet and splitting, you can openly speak with your doctor. They will provide the necessary guidance on it. You have to be careful when you are prescribed a higher dose. It would be best if you reminded yourself to split it and not take the whole one. Consider putting your pill cutter or any other tool near your medicines so that they serve as a reminder.

How Can You Safely Split Pills At Home?

Option 1: Pill Splitter-

Pill Splitter is a very convenient and one of the best ways to cut your tablets. There are so many pill cutters in the market. A pill cutter’s cost varies with its functionalities, but an available pill cutter ranges between $5 to $20. You get pill cutters in different sizes and shapes. There are pill cutters that cater to the specific size and shape of the pill.

Pill Splitter

If you observe the below, it would mean that the pill is not suitable for pill cutters.

  • Crumbling
  • Uneven split
  • Easy crushing to powder


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Option 2: Split Scored Tablets With Your Fingers

Soft and curved pills that have a score are easy to split. You can cut them by putting equal pressure on either side of the tablet and snapping it in half.

Option 3: Split Non-Scored Tablets With Any Home Based Tool

If your pills do not have a score, you can create a score using a sharp-edged splinter, scissors, or knife. Once you have the score, you can follow the same process as above. Hold the pill with your two thumbs and push the tablet outwards.

Some people have used nail cutters of their pets to cut the pills in half. You can also try using a serrated knife to cut tablets in half. 


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Safety Checks

While splitting the pills might help you save some money, you will have to perform a few safety checks before starting the process.

  • It is always better to wash your hands before starting the process
  • If you are splitting pills for others, it is still better to use gloves
  • If you are using a pill splitter, make sure you clean the pill splitter between usage. Any cross-contamination will result in incorrect dosages and might lead to further complications
  • If you are splitting pills, it is always easier to get scored tablets. If your current prescription does not have one, you can ask your pharmacist for any replacement.