The do-it-yourself practice of pill splitting – literally cutting them in half – has become a popular way to save on prescription medication costs, but you need to talk to your doctor or pharmacist first because not all pills can be split.
Why split tablets?
The reason pill splitting is such a money saver is because of a quirk in the way drugs are manufactured and priced. A pill that’s twice as strong as another may not be twice the price. In fact, it’s usually about the same price.
So, buying a double-strength dose and cutting it in half may allow you to get two months worth of medicine for the price of one.
For example: say you take 10 milligrams (mg) of a cholesterol-lowering drug every day, but the 20 mg tablet costs just about the same. If you buy the 20 mg tablets, cut them in half, and then take only one-half (now equal to 10 mg), you can double your buying power.
But, is it safe?
As long as your doctor or pharmacist agrees that splitting your pills is okay for you, you learn how to do it properly, and you split only pills that can be split, there’s really no danger.
FDA approval. If the FDA has approved a drug for splitting, it will usually be printed on the package insert.
Thumbs up from your doctor or pharmacist. Before splitting any pill, talk it over with your doctor or pharmacist.
Scored down the middle. Scored pills are easier to split evenly. But a line down the middle doesn’t always mean it’s safe to split. Check with your doctor or pharmacist, or look for the FDA approval.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist
If you’re interested in splitting your pills, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of the medicines you use can be safely split.
It’s also important to find out whether splitting them will save you enough money to justify the hassle.
The pills that are easiest to split are those with a score down the middle. However, not every pill that’s scored is meant to be split.
Medications that can usually be split in half
Remember: always check with your healthcare provider to be sure tablet splitting a safe choice for you.
Pills that are most commonly split include: Cholesterol lowering drugs, Antidepressants, High blood pressure medicines and Erectile Dysfunction pills
Olmesartan medoxomil (Benicar)
Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
Don’t split these
Some pills should never be split.
Drugs that are time-released or long-lasting and tablets that contain a combination of drugs probably shouldn’t be split, because it’s difficult to ensure a proper amount of active ingredient in each half.
Pills with a coating to protect your stomach and pills that crumble easily or irritate your mouth shouldn’t be split either, along with chemotherapy drugs, anti-seizure medicines, birth control pills and capsules containing powders or gels.
A small or uneven shape: Some pills are just too difficult to split evenly.
Oxycodone (OxyContin) for pain
Omeprazole (Prilosec) for heartburn
Cetirizine (Zyrtec) for allergies
Chemotherapy drugs and anti-seizure medicines
Birth control pills
Blood thinners (Coumadin, warfarin)
Capsules containing powders or gels
Pills with hard outside coatings or coatings to protect your stomach
Pills that release the drug throughout the day (extended-release)
Pills that crumble easily
Pills that irritate the mouth or taste bitter
Pills with strong dyes that could stain your teeth and mouth
Use a splitter
Having the right equipment is very important, too. Don’t use a knife or scissors to cut your pills in half. It can cause you to split them unevenly, resulting in two pieces with very different dosages, which can be dangerous.
Purchase a proper pill cutter that has a cover and a V-shaped pill grip that holds the pill securely in place.
For convenience, you might be tempted to split the whole bottle of pills at once.
But, it’s best to do the splitting on the day you take the first half, and then take the other half whenever you are scheduled to take your next dose. That will help keep the drugs from deteriorating due to exposure to heat, moisture or air.
It’s also important to know that pills are only safely split in half and very rarely into smaller portions, such as into thirds or quarters. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep it clean.
Always wash your hands first. Wash the pill splitter thoroughly after you’ve done your splitting.
Want to save more?
It is important to remember that pill splitting is not the only way to save money on prescription medications.
Comparing prices across pharmacies and using free prescription discount programs are also highly effective ways to dramatically reduce how much your family spends on medications.
There are plenty of Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) certified online pharmacies such as CheapoMeds that can provide safety and affordable medications from trusted sources around the world.
Each CIPA pharmacy member is licensed and regulated by the government for safety. CIPA sells prescription drugs made by the leading name-brand manufacturers at prices up to 80 percent less than U.S.
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