Tablet Splitting of Muscle Relaxants Raises Concerns

Patients with back and neck pain who divide the most commonly prescribed muscle relaxant may be getting anywhere from half to 1.5 times the amount of medicine that they believe they are taking and may be receiving too much or too little medication.

Researchers at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, conducted a study to determine the level of weight variability of tablet fragments when cyclobenzaprine HCl (Flexeril®, McNeil Consumer) 10 mg was split into halves with a tablet splitter and with a kitchen knife. The study was begun after anecdotal reports that patients given a prescription for branded Flexeril® 5-mg tablets were being advised to split the generic 10-mg tablets instead of taking the 5-mg tablet as prescribed.
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Flexeril® 5 mg is comparable in efficacy to the 10-mg strength but is less sedating. Because the generic 10-mg tablets are not designed for splitting (they are not scored), there is an increased tendency for them to split unevenly or crumble. Tablet splitting often results in a lack of uniformity, even when tablets are scored, and the practice is opposed by many health professionals.