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Extended-Release Medicines

Extended-release medicines slowly release medicine into the body. This reduces how fast the body absorbs the medicine. There may be three benefits to this:

  • The medicine is in the body for a longer time.
  • Side effects may be less intense.
  • You don't have to take the medicine as often.

Extended-release medicines are not used when a medicine is first prescribed and the final dose has not been determined. They usually are not used unless side effects are a problem, it is hard to take the nonextended-release form, or you need a long-acting medicine.

Extended-release medicines should never be crushed or chewed. Some of them can be broken in two. Ask your pharmacist about this.

Extended-release medicines also are called modified-release, prolonged-release, controlled-release, controlled-delivery, slow-release, and sustained-release medicines.

Delayed-release medicines are not the same. They release the active ingredients at a certain time after the medicine is taken.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last Revised June 28, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.