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 May 15;466(1-2):44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2014.02.031. Epub 2014 Feb 21.


Introduction: Tablets are frequently subdivided to lower the dose, to facilitate swallowing by e.g. children or older people or to save costs. Splitting devices are commonly used when hand breaking is difficult or painful.

Methods: Three techniques for tablet subdivision were investigated: hand breaking, tablet splitter, kitchen knife. A best case drug (paracetamol), tablet (round, flat, uncoated, 500 mg) and operator (24-year student) were applied. Hundred tablets were subdivided by hand and by three devices of each of the following types: Fit & Healthy, Health Care Logistics, Lifetime, PillAid, PillTool, Pilomat tablet splitter; Blokker kitchen knife. The intra and inter device accuracy, precision and sustainability were investigated. The compliance to (adapted) regulatory requirements was investigated also.

Results: The accuracy and precision of hand broken tablets was 104/97% resp. 2.8/3.2% (one part per tablet considered; parts right/left side operator). The right/left accuracies of the splitting devices varied between 60 and 133%; the precisions 4.0 and 29.6%. The devices did not deteriorate over 100-fold use. Only hand broken tablets complied with all regulatory requirements.

Conclusion: Health care professionals should realize that tablet splitting may result in inaccurate dosing. Authorities should undertake appropriate measures to assure good function of tablet splitters and, where feasible, to reduce the need for their use.

Keywords: Break mark; Medication; Pharmaceutical development; Tablet splitting; Weight uniformity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen
  • Adult
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Tablets* / standards
  • Young Adult


  • Tablets
  • Acetaminophen