Tablets And Pills In The Stool

A very alarming attribute of some medications is the fact that you can sometimes see the remnants of a tablet or pill in your stool after taking it earlier in the day.  This is actually quite common and there is a name for these. They’re called “ghost tablets” or "ghost pills". Ghost tablets can look just like a pill you have taken, or like a small soft mass. If you see a ghost tablet, there’s no need to be worried, but you might have questions.


Can you give me a list of all the medications that may not be completely digested and you can see after you go to the bathroom?

Asked by Schmeve On Oct 19, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Oct 19, 2017

Why Would I See A Ghost Tablet? 

Some pills are broken down after you swallow them and as they travel through your gut. This is the way your gut handles most foods. However, some pills are not broken down in your gut. Similar to the way you can sometimes see corn in your stool, these pills leave ghost tablets.

If I See A Ghost Tablet, Does This Mean The Pill Didn’t Work?

If you see a ghost tablet, it doesn’t mean the pill didn’t work. Think of ghost tablets like sponges that have been wrung out. The medicine has been “wrung out” of the pill by your body. But the ghost tablet, like a sponge, stays intact.

What Types Of Pills Leave Ghost Tablets?

Pills that leave ghost tablets are usually those that release the medicine slowly. These pills are often taken just one or two times a day. You might see letters like “XL” or “ER” as part of the names of these pills. The types of tablets that produce ghosts include those with unabsorbable components: wax matrix, GITS (Gastrointestinal Therapeutic System), OROS (Osmotic Controlled Release Oral Delivery System), and SCOT (single-composition osmotic technology). Here are some examples of pills that leave ghost tablets:

  • Adalat CC
  • Adalat XL
  • Asacol
  • Asacol HD 
  • Cardura XL 
  • Concerta
  • Ditropan XL
  • Dynacirc CR 
  • Exalgo 
  • Fortamet 
  • Glucophage XR
  • Glucotrol XL
  • Glumetza
  • Invega
  • Jurnista
  • K-Tab
  • Klor-Con
  • Lialda
  • Lopresor SR
  • OxyContin
  • Pristiq
  • Procardia XL
  • Rayos
  • Sudafed 24 Hour
  • Tegretol XR
  • Urocit-K

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

Recent Questions