Question: What Is Enteric-Coated Medication?
When deciding on a drug, it is important to weigh the risks against the benefits. Commonly used back pain medications such as NSAIDs have known side effects that can result in serious stomach problems. Enteric-coated medication may help you avoid this potential problem.
Enteric-coated medication is a type of tablet or capsule that has been covered with special ingredients to prevent irritation of the stomach lining. Certain pain medications, most notably, NSAIDs
, have known side effects that may lead to very serious GI tract problems such as ulcers. Enteric-coated drugs may help to avoid these potentially lethal problems by keeping the drug's active ingredient
from releasing until it has gone all the way through the stomach
, arriving in the small intestine
. The word enteric means "relating to the intestine".
Cutting, crushing or breaking an enteric-coated medication before taking it negates this protective effect, and exposes the stomach to potential irritation.
The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that nearly 20,000 people die each year due to GI tract problems caused by taking NSAIDS.
Stedman's Medical Dictionary. 28th Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 2006. Baltimore, Md.
Dieleman, L. Is Cutting Your Pills a Safe Way to Save Money? Consumer Health Corporation website. 2001.