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    Wellness Lifestyle

    How To Take Your Pills Correctly? To Cut? Or Not To Cut?

    “Good morning Mr. A, how can I help you?” “Good morning, Mr. B, I would like to fill up my prescription. But, is it possible for you to supply me XXX 40mg instead of XXX 20mg? It will be cheaper if it cut it into two.”

    Does it sound familiar for you? Most pharmacist and consumers have experienced this situation some time in their life. However, do you think that the pill is suited for cutting? How much do you know about the structures of the ‘constructed tablets and capsules’? If the answer is “no, I have no idea”, then let me share with you when is the best time to make the request.
    Drugs are formulated into various dosage from the convenience of administration. In accordance to the routes of administration, there are tablets, suspension, injections, creams, ointments and many more. Oral route is most commonly used for the administration of drugs. Its dosage forms include tablets, capsules, suspensions and syrups. Each presentation can be further subdivided into different categories but I will only focus on tablets and capsules, which are so called pills.   Tablets are normally coated with a thin layer of film whereas capsules do not. Both film-coated tablets and capsules are used for their protective effect and sometimes, whit their unique chemical and physical properties, it is used to achieve certain therapeutic outcomes, for example, an extended/delayed release delivery system.
    So what happens to the pills after oral administration? They have to pass through a series of challenges before it can be used by our body. The dissolution and absorption represent the rate determining steps of the bioavailability of the ingested pills. By cutting the tablet into two or open up a capsules, the drug are exposed to the surrounding environment earlier and some chemical reaction may take place due to presence of sunlight, oxygen and moisture. These reactions may disrupt the physical and chemical stabilities of the drug; hence affect the dissolution and absorption of the administered pills. The same condition may be also applied to pills, which contain acid-sensitive drugs. They are normally coated with a protective layer that is capable of withstanding the acidity of the stomach to prevent the drug from being destroyed and to target a site where optimum absorption can take place.

    In the market, there are some medications with name ending with CR, XL, SR, MR and etc. It is actually an innovative technology that pharmaceutical scientists had designed to deliver the doses in a controlled manner. They are different from their conventional products; It is especially useful in the control chronic diseases, for instance, hypertension. diabetes, epilepsy and depression disorders. It is called an ‘extended release delivery system.’ The purpose of this delivery system is concentration level in the blood is maintained. Thus, obviously the tablets or capsules with their brand name ended with the alphabets should not be cut or opened up, as these could destroy the purpose of this formulation.

    So, do not simply cut your pills, they may be specially designed for a better control of your disease state. Do consult your doctor or pharmacist before cutting your pills.

    Article by Lee Ling Foong, Pharmacist, My Pharmacy.
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