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SENIOR LIVING: Pill Splitting: When it’s safe, and when it isn’t advisable
If you take prescription medications, splitting
your pills -- literally cutting them in half -- could save you a lot of money. But be sure you talk to your doctor first, because not all pills can be split.
The reason pill splitting is such a cost-cutter 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. But is it safe? As long as your doctor agrees that splitting your pills is OK for you, you learn how to do it properly, and you split only pills that can be split, there’s really no danger.
What to Do
If you’re interested in pill splitting, the first step is to 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. Pills that are most commonly split include:
• Cholesterol lowering drugs, like Crestor, Lipitor,
• Antidepressants, like Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft
• High blood pressure medicines like, Monopril,
Zestril, Avapro and Cozaar.
• Erectile dysfunction pills, like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra
Having the right equipment helps too. Don’t use a knife 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. They only cost around $5 to $10 and are available at most pharmacies and large discount stores.
For convenience, you might be tempted to split the whole bottle of pills at once. But check with your doctor first. It’s possible that exposing the interior of the pills to the air could reduce their effectiveness. It’s also important to know that pills are only safely split in half, and never into smaller portions such as into thirds or quarters.
Many medicines, because of their ingredients or design, cannot be split safely. Here’s a list of pills that should not be split:
• Chemotherapy drugs.
• Anti-seizure medicines.
• Some blood thinners.
• Birth control pills.
• Capsules of any kind that contain powders or gels.
• Pills with a hard outside coating.
• Extended-release pills that deliver medication
over time in your body.
• Pills that are coated to protect your stomach.
• Pills that crumble easily, irritate your mouth, or
Again, your doctor or pharmacist will know which drugs can and cannot be split. If you’re taking a medicine that can be split, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor for twice the dosage you need. Then you can start splitting and saving, safely.
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