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Need to split tablets? Just do it with your hands

Anti-oestrogens, oral anabolic steroids and supplements often work better if you spread the daily dose over several intake moments. To do this you may need to split tablets in two. There are gadgets for this in online supplement stores. But researchers at the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board discovered that it's better just to break the tablets using your hands.

Need to split tablets? Just do it with your hands

If you break a tablet into two you want both halves to be the same size and contain equal amounts of the active ingredient. So if you break a 400-mg caffeine tablet into two pieces you don't want one half to contain 100 mg caffeine and the other 300 mg.

The researchers split tablets using their hands, a kitchen knife and using all sorts of splitters including the Fit & Healthy used by some bodybuilders. The researchers then looked at how neatly the tablets had been divided.

The figures below show what happens when you split tablets using your hands and what happens when you use the Fit & Healthy.

Red diamonds = left half; blue diamonds = right half; black diamonds = wastage. If a red or blue diamond has a value of 100 on the Y-axis it was broken exactly in the middle.

Need to split tablets? Just do it with your hands

As you can see: it's more accurate and less wasteful to split tabs using your hands.

The researchers tested five other splitters. They all worked better than the Fit & Healthy, but none of the gadgets worked better than splitting tabs using your hands.

Some pill users split their tablets using a knife. That works better than using a Fit & Healthy gadget, but not as well as using your hands.

Need to split tablets? Just do it with your hands

If you split tablets with your hands all halves fall within the range of 42.5 to 57.5 percent of the whole tab. If you use a knife the figure is 76.7 percent. And if you use the Fit & Healthy only 60 percent falls within that range.

"The accuracy and precision of none of the investigated tablet splitters and kitchen knife was equivalent to hand breaking when applying a best case drug, tablet and operator", the researchers summarized. "Health care professionals and patients should realize that tablet splitting may result in inaccurate dosing."

Int J Pharm. 2014 May 15;466(1-2):44-51.