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Propranolol tablets come in a variety of strengths and may differ in color and general appearance, depending on the manufacturer. Pills or other forms of this beta blocker may also have slightly different inactive ingredients. Some types of propranolol tablets are even more distinct because they are combined with another medication. Alternately, tablets can be compared to capsules, which use an extended release version of the drug. This medicine also comes in an elixir or in a liquid that can be injected.
Fully describing propranolol tablets is difficult because of their strength and appearance variations. Generally, the pills may contain 10, 20, 40, or 60 milligrams (mg) of the active ingredient. An 80 mg strength drug may also be available.
In appearance, tablets could be white, or they might be colored yellow, blue or red, which may be based on the preference of the individual company making them. Since colors and strength aren’t always the same for each manufacturer, it’s a good idea to evaluate the label and any information printed on the pill to determine if a dose is correct. Some drug companies also occasionally coat the tablets or they may score pills, so that patients can more easily divide the drug. While cutting a tablet in half is usually fine, pharmacists recommend the medication not be crushed into smaller pieces.
An exact list of inactive ingredients for propranolol tablets varies by the manufacturer. Some common extra additives are lactose, cellulose, and magnesium stearate. A colored pill contains various types of dyes, as well.
Other types of propranolol tablets available are very different because they have another drug added to them. The most expected combination adds hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic, to assist in treating congestive heart failure. Each pill of this type may contain 25 mg of the diuretic, and 40 mg of propranolol. It should not be used in place of a 40 mg propranolol-only pill, unless a physician advises it.
Propranolol medication also comes in a capsule form. These capsules may appear to contain many tiny beads of medicine. Almost invariably this is an extended release form of the drug. Capsules may be appropriate to reduce daily doses of the medication and are often available in strengths of 60, 80, 120 or 160 mg. Using an extended release capsule could be preferable when large single doses of the drug are indicated.
Patients should never view any extended release pill as equivalent to the propranolol tablets they presently use. A doctor’s advice is needed to help individuals safely transition from one form of the drug to the other. The strengths, milligram per milligram, in each of the different formulations may not be completely equal, which doctors can account for in dosage directions. Similarly, patients may need guidance on how to transition from capsules or tablets to elixirs or injections.