Can I Cut a Suboxone Film or Tablet?

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Suboxone comes in two forms: a tablet and a film. Both melt in your mouth, delivering active ingredients to your bloodstream through your oral tissues. The drug’s manufacturer states that films and tablets shouldn’t be cut, however in reality many doctors may recommend cutting/splitting the tablet or film in order to deliver the desired dose. [1, 2]

3 Reasons Why Cutting Doses May Be Required 

Never cut your Suboxone films or tablets unless your doctor tells you to do so. While the manufacturer might not recommend this approach, films and tablets may come in dosing intervals that aren't right for every patient. 

These are a few reasons your doctor might recommend cutting your Suboxone doses. 

1. You're Just Starting Therapy 

Some doctors recommend using very small starting doses when you're using Suboxone for the first time.[3] In this situation they may recommend that you cut a 4 mg strip in half in order to deliver a 2 mg dose, for example. 

2. You Need a Customized Dose 

Some people may need a dose that is slightly less or more than a full strip. Stips usually come in doses of 2 mg, 4 mg, or 8 mg. Therefore, if someone needs a 12 mg dose, they might be instructed to take one a half strips of an 8 mg stip, which means cutting a strip in half. 

3. You're Trying to End Therapy

When stopping Suboxone, you may want to wean yourself off very slowly in order to prevent any withdrawal symptoms or return of cravings. For example, your doctor may tell you to take half of your daily strip for a week or two before discontinuing altogether. In this scenario, you may be cutting your strip in half. 

How to Cut & Split Suboxone Film & Tablets

Suboxone Film 

Researchers compared four cut methods in a 2019 study and found that using a ruler and razor was the most effective way to ensure equal doses.[4] The ruler holds the strip steady, and the razor makes a clean cut. If you don’t have a razor, using a scissor works well. Make sure the scissor is clean and dry so that the strip does not get at all wet or sticky. 

Suboxone Tablets 

To cut a tablet in half, you can buy a pill splitter (like this one on Amazon), and use it only for Suboxone tablets. Label the splitter with a black, permanent marker and keep it with your pills. A tool like this allows you to cut your doses quickly and effectively, and the sharp blade protects tablets from crushing or fragmenting. 

Problems with Splitting Suboxone Films or Tablets 

Accidental Exposure 

Suboxone tablets are hard to identify when they're cut up. And partial strips may be attractive to curious children.[5] Full doses in their original containers, are easier to keep track of. 

Contamination

Tablets can get crushed if you're not using sharp tools to cut them. The powder can coat your cutting surface, and if you don't remove it, the drug could get sprinkled on the next thing you place on that surface. 

Misuse Potential 

Some people cut their Suboxone films and tablets because they want to take more than their doctors recommend. If you're tempted to misuse your medication, talk with your doctor immediately.

What Happens if Suboxone Isn’t Split Evenly?

Even if you use the right tools, you may cut your doses slightly unevenly. Most doctors do not recommend cutting your Suboxone smaller than in half because it can just be too small to cut properly at that point. 

If you take slightly more or less than one a half a tablet/strip, you may get a little more or less than the manufacturer recommended, but these differences are extremely small and you will probably not notice any difference. It's fine if you're not 100% accurate when you cut your pills or strips. Try to cut the strip/tablet as close to in half as possible. 

Sources

  1. Suboxone Sublingual Film Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/022410s042lbl.pdf. March 2021. Accessed October 2022.
  2. Suboxone Sublingual Tablet Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/020733s024lbl.pdf. October 2019. Accessed October 2022.
  3. Instructions for Starting Buprenorphine (Suboxone) at Home When You Are Using Opiates (Heroin, Pain Pills, Etc.) Regularly. State of New Mexico. https://newmexico.networkofcare.org/content/client/1446/2.5_2(CT)_InstructionsforStartingBuprenorphineatHomeWhenUsingOpiates.pdf. February 2017. Accessed October 2022.
  4. An Exploratory Study of Suboxone (Buprenorphine/Naloxone) Film Splitting: Cutting Methods, Content Uniformity, and Stability. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31085795/. May 2019. Accessed October 2022.
  5. Information for Pharmacists Dispensing or Administering Suboxone Film. Government of South Australia. https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/ef2aa4004008e228b4c2bf4826472d56/Suboxone_Film_-_Info_for_Pharmacists+201703.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-ef2aa4004008e228b4c2bf4826472d56-nKOH-It. September 2011. Accessed October 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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