Can You Split Metoprolol ER?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not metoprolol ER can be split.

Mar 12, 2018

Jim asked

Can you split metoprolol ER?


While it is commonly thought that when a medication is given in an extended release formulation (ER, XL, CR, or XR in its name) you may not split it there are exceptions. Metoprolol Succinate (Brand name Toprol XL) is one of these exceptions and you may split it one time. The ability to do this comes from the unique way that Toprol XL and its approved generics are formulated.

Most extended release medications are composed of a coating around the active ingredient of the medication. Through a wide variety of mechanisms this coating regulates how fast a drug is released into your system for absorption by the body. If this outer coating is split it can cause the drug to be released all at once into the body. If this occurs it could vastly compromise the effectiveness of the medication, lead to potentially serious side effects and even cause an overdose. 

Toprol XL and is  approved generics are composed of a unique micropellet design in which many small coated pellets are dispersed evenly throughout the larger tablet. These individual micropellets act similar to a conventional extended release tablet and control the release of Metoprolol once the larger tablet is in the GI tract.

Although it is ok to split Metoprololn ER one time (the tablet is scored to aid you in this) you should not crush, chew, or split the tablet more than 1 time. Any of these actions can damage the micropellets and disrupt the intended release if the medication. 

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