Effect of different splitting techniques on the characteristics of divided tablets of five commonly split drug products in Jordan

Keywords: Self Administration, Tablets, Medication Errors, Drug Prescriptions, Reproducibility of Results, Jordan


Objective: To determine the accuracy, variability, and weight uniformity of tablet subdivision techniques utilized to divide the tablets of five drug products that are commonly prescribed for use as half tablets in Jordan. 

Methods: Ten random tablets of five commonly subdivided drug products were weighed and subdivided using three subdivision techniques: hand breaking, kitchen knife, and tablet cutter. The five commonly subdivided drug products (warfarin 5 mg, levothyroxine 50 μg, levothyroxine 100 μg, candesartan 16 mg, and carvedilol 25 mg) were weighed. The weights were analyzed for acceptance, accuracy, and variability. Weight variation acceptance criteria were adopted in this work as a tool to indicate the properness of the subdivision techniques used to produce acceptable half tablets. Other relevant physical characteristics of the five products such as tablet shape, dimensions, face curvature, score depth, and crushing strength were measured. 

Results: All tablets were round in shape, had weights that ranged between 100.63 mg (standard deviation=0.99) and 379.04 mg (standard deviation=3.00), and had crushing strengths that ranged between 23.29 N (standard deviation=3.58)and 103.35 N (standard deviation=14.98). Both candesartan and carvedilol were bi-convex in shape with an extent of face curvature equal to about 33%. In addition, percentage score depth of the tablets had a range between 0% and 24%. The accuracy and variability of subdivision varied according to the subdivision technique used and tablet characteristics. Accuracy range was between 81% and 109.8%. Moreover, the relative standard deviation was between 1.5% and 17.4%. Warfarin 5 mg subdivided tablets failed the weight variation test regardless of the subdivision technique used. Subdivision by hand produced half tablets that were acceptable for levothyroxine 50 μg and levothyroxine 100 μg. Subdivision by knife produced half tablets that were acceptable only for candesartan tablets. However, the tablet cutter produced half tablets that passed the weight variation test for four out of the five drug products tested in this study.

Conclusions: The tablet cutter performed better than the other subdivision techniques used. It produced half tablets that passed the weight uniformity test for four drug products out of the five.


Download data is not yet available.


Rodenhuis N, De Smet PA, Barends DM. The rationale of scored tablets as dosage form. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2004;21(2-3):305-308. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejps.2003.10.018

Quinzler R, Gasse C, Schneider A, Kaufmann-Kolle P, Szecsenyi J, Haefeli WE. The frequency of inappropriate tablet splitting in primary care. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2006;62(12):1065-1073. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00228-006-0202-3

Dormuth CR, Schneeweiss S, Brookhart AM, Carney G, Bassett K, Adams S, Wright JM. Frequency and predictors of tablet splitting in statin prescriptions: a population-based analysis. Open Med. 2008;2(3):e74-82.

Mandal TK. Effect of tablet integrity on the dissolution rate of sustained-release preparations. J Clin Pharm Ther. 1996;21(3):155-157. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2710.1996.tb00015.x

Teixeira MT, Sa-Barreto LL, Taveira SF, Gratieri T, Gelfuso GM, Marreto RN, Silva IC, Cunha-Filho M. The Influence of Matrix Technology on the Subdivision of Sustained Release Matrix Tablets. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2019;21(1):8. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-019-1554-1

Temer AC, Teixeira MT, Sa-Barreto LL, Gratieri T, Gelfuso GM, Silva IC, Taveira SF, Marreto RN, Cunha-Filho M. Subdivision of tablets containing modified delivery technology: the case of orally disintegrating tablets. J Pharm Innov. 2018;13(3):261-269.

Tahaineh LM, Gharaibeh SF. Tablet splitting and weight uniformity of half-tablets of 4 medications in pharmacy practice. J Pharm Pract. 2012;25(4):471-476. https://doi.org/10.1177/0897190012442716

van Riet-Nales DA, Doeve ME, Nicia AE, Teerenstra S, Notenboom K, Hekster YA, et al. The accuracy, precision and sustainability of different techniques for tablet subdivision: Breaking by hand and the use of tablet splitters or a kitchen knife. Int J Pharm. 2014;466(1-2):44-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2014.02.031

Helmy SA. Tablet splitting: is it worthwhile? Analysis of drug content and weight uniformity for half tablets of 16 commonly used medications in the outpatient setting. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2015;21(1):76-86. https://doi.org/10.18553/jmcp.2015.21.1.76

Chou C-L, Hsu C-C, Chou C-Y, Chen T-J, Chou L-F, Chou Y-C. Tablet splitting of narrow therapeutic index drugs: a nationwide survey in Taiwan. Int J Clin Pharm. 2015;37(6):1235-1241. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-015-0194-0

Shah RB, Collier JS, Sayeed VA, Bryant A, Habib MJ, Khan MA. Tablet splitting of a narrow therapeutic index drug: a case with levothyroxine sodium. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2010;11(3):1359-1367. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-010-9515-8

Teixeira MT, Sá-Barreto LCL, Gratieri T, Gelfuso GM, Silva ICR, Cunha-Filho MSS. Key Technical Aspects Influencing the Accuracy of Tablet Subdivision. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2017;18(4):1393-1401. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-016-0615-y

Gupta A, Hunt RL, Khan MA. Influence of tablet characteristics on weight variability and weight loss in split tablets. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2008;65(24):2326- 2328. https://doi.org/10.2146/ajhp080371

Pereira GRS, Taveira SF, Cunha-Filho M, Marreto RN. The Effects of Fillers and Binders on the Accuracy of Tablet Subdivision. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2018;19(7):2929-2933. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-018-1144-7

Gharaibeh SF, Tahaineh LM, Khasawneh AH. Tablet splitting practice in Jordan. J Pharm Health Serv Res. 2018;9(4):373-379. https://doi.org/10.1111/jphs.12258

Habib WA, Alanizi AS, Abdelhamid MM, Alanizi FK. Accuracy of tablet splitting: Comparison study between hand splitting and tablet cutter. Saudi Pharm J. 2014;22(5):454-459. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2013.12.014

Somogyi O, Meskó A, Csorba L, Szabó P, Zelkó R. Pharmaceutical counselling about different types of tablet-splitting methods based on the results of weighing tests and mechanical development of splitting devices. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2017;106:262-273. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejps.2017.05.071

Polli JE, Kim S, Martin BR. Weight uniformity of split tablets required by a Veterans Affairs policy. J Manag Care Pharm. 2003;9(5):401-407. https://doi.org/10.18553/jmcp.2003.9.5.401

United States Pharmacopeia 26-National Formulary 21. Rockville, MD: The United States Pharmacopeial Convention, Inc.; 2002:2227-9.

Seong S, Shin J-Y, Kim D, Song I, Sun S, Kim I, Park S-K, Ha D. The effect of tablet splitting on the mass loss, uniformity, and stability: by hand or splitter? J Asian Assoc Sch Pharm. 2019;8(1):7-14.

How to Cite
Gharaibeh SF, Tahaineh L. Effect of different splitting techniques on the characteristics of divided tablets of five commonly split drug products in Jordan. Pharm Pract (Granada) [Internet]. 2020Apr.23 [cited 2020Oct.26];18(2):1776. Available from: https://pharmacypractice.org/journal/index.php/pp/article/view/1776
Original Research