What Is Extended-Release Medication?


What are extended-release medications?

Extended-release medications are slowly released into the body over a period of time, usually 12 or 24 hours. They are typically available in an oral tablet or an oral capsule. They differ from immediate release medications which release content within minutes of ingestion.

What are the advantages of extended-release medications?

Extended-release medications offer several advantages which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Less frequent doses
  • Fewer side effects
  • Less fluctuation in blood levels
  • Complete absorption

How are extended-release medications labeled?

Extended-release medications may be labeled with any of the following:

  • CD — controlled delivery
  • TR — time release
  • LA — long acting
  • ER — extended release
  • XT — extra time
  • XL — extra long
  • XR — extended release
  • SR — sustained release
  • CR — controlled release
  • DR — delayed release
  • EC — enteric coated
  • MR — modified release
  • SA — sustained action
  • CC — continuous control

Are there precautions for the use of extended-release medications?

Extended-release medications should be taken as prescribed. No crushing, splitting or chewing of pills or capsules should occur with the use of extended-release medications. Medication labeled for extended release can result in an overdose if crushed or chewed. Air or moisture can change the effectiveness of the formulation, so it is important to keep prescription bottles sealed and in a dry place. Altering the original form of an extended-release medication can make it less effective. If individuals have any questions on how to properly take their medication, they should check with a pharmacist or the prescribing doctor.

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