Splitting Pills Can Save Money, But Is It Safe?

Knoxville (WVLT) - A new study has found some pills can be split in half without losing the medicinal effect.

In this case, researchers looked at the effect of splitting three high-dose cholesterol-lowering pills in half.

They found splitting the pills didn't make any difference in cholesterol levels, but saved patients an average of five to seven dollars a month.

Here's how it works, A pill that's twice the dose isn't typically twice the price. In fact, higher dose pills often cost only slightly more than the lower dose ones. A patient who needs a 40 milligram pill, for example, might be able to split an 80 milligram tablet, doubling his supply and saving money.

But UT Medical Center Pharmacist Mary Ellen Cox warns, pill splitting isn't for every drug or every patient. "Cholesterol medicines sometimes are scored, and sometimes are not scored. So, number one, it's understanding that you can cut a medication in half and be able to get the same dosage you want everyday."

You should always talk with your doctor and your pharmacist before splitting any medicines, because some medications should never be split, including time release or extended release medicines and pills with an enteric coating.

"Sometimes, it's a little bit deceiving. People do not realize that the coating on the outside, even though it might just look like a white, clear coating, may also have a delivery component to it,” Dr. Cox says.

But there are instances when pill splitting is necessary.

For example, sometimes the dose the patient needs isn't available.

And, sometimes there are financial reasons.

If your doctor and pharmacist agree to the split, be sure to use a pill splitter. "If the company thinks it's a good medication or the way they have it to deliver in your body, they may go ahead and put a score on it, so that it makes it a little bit easier to get a half of each tablet."

And in case of an emergency, be sure the dosage and directions are printed clearly on the label.

Researchers say some people should probably not try to split pills.

People with memory problems may forget to split pills and end up taking too much medicine.

And, people with vision problems may find it too difficult to split pills evenly.


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