Can You Cut Or Split Tylenol Caplets?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not Tylenol caplets can be cut or split in half.

Question

Can you cut Tylenol caplets in half?

Asked by Barry On Oct 24, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Oct 24, 2022
Last updated Mar 04, 2024

Key points

  • Tylenol caplets can safely be cut or split. However, be sure to use a sharp pill cutter as caplets have an oblong shape and are often coated with wax or shellac to make them easier to swallow.
  • Some Tylenol products are extended-release and should not be cut or split.

Answer

Yes, Tylenol caplets can be cut or split, as long as they are not extended-release. For example, Tylenol Extra Strength caplets can be split, but, Tylenol Arthritis, which is extended-release, should not be cut or split.

It is important to note, however, that caplets can sometimes be difficult to accurately cut in half due to their shape and coating. For this reason, it is recommended to use a pill splitter, rather than a knife, to ensure the caplet doesn't crumble or break into multiple pieces and to ensure an even split.

Splitting Caplets Vs. Tablets

Tylenol comes in a number of different dosage forms, including:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Caplets
  • Geltabs
  • Gelcaps

This question asks specifically about a 'caplet'. A "caplet" simply refers to a capsule-shaped tablet.

Most caplets are "coated" with wax or other substance like gelatin or shellac. This can make the caplets more palatable as well as make them easier to swallow than conventional tablets.

The ingredients of Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets are as follows:

  • Acetaminophen (active ingredient)
  • Carnauba wax
  • Corn starch
  • FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake
  • Hypromellose
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Modified starch
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Pregelatinized starch
  • Propylene glycol
  • Shellac glaze
  • Sodium starch glycolate
  • Titanium dioxide

As you can see, Tylenol caplets contain both wax and shellac, which makes them easier to swallow.  As mentioned above, these coatings can sometimes make Tylenol caplets difficult to cut as they have a "slippery" surface. Be sure to use a sharp pill cutter to properly cut Tylenol caplets.

Tylenol Caplets Box

In the image above, you'll see the oblong shape and coated surface of Tylenol Extra Strength 500mg caplets. This is an example of a Tylenol caplet that can safely be split with a pill splitter.

Can You Crush Them?

Since Tylenol caplets are coated, if crushed, they can sometimes cause throat/GI irritation if swallowed this way because of the coating fragments. Having said this, crushing them won't alter how the drug is absorbed or works and is an option if you can't swallow pills (or halved pills).

Again, just make not sure to split extended-release Tylenol products (e.g. Tylenol Arthritis).

Final Words

I hope this answer helped! Reach back out anytime.

References

  • Acetaminophen Monograph, PubChem
  • Tylenol Extra Strength Manufacturer Website, Tylenol

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at [email protected]! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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