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Pill-splitting can cut costs—but ask your doctor first

Consumer Reports News: May 19, 2009 05:28 PM

If you knew a low-cost pill-splitting device could cut your prescription drug costs in half, you’d run out and buy one. But not so fast. It’s a fact that pill splitting can be a powerful way to lower your health-care costs, but it can be dangerous. In our recent drug survey, of those who took measures to lower their drug costs, 1 in 10 respondents cut their pills in half, some without their doctor’s permission. Such a risky behavior could mean that you’re not getting a safe or effective dose of your medication.

Keep in mind that some pills should not be split; most importantly, those include: long-acting, extended- or continued-release tablets or capsules, any capsules that contain powders or gels, birth control pills and chemotherapy drugs. Take a look at our Best Buy Drugs guide* for more specifics on pills that should not be split.

If you want to split your pills because of cost concerns—or for any other reason—talk to your doctor or pharmacist and ask about getting a pill that’s twice your normal dose. If your doctor gives the OK—don’t use a knife—pick up an inexpensive pill-splitter ($5 -10) from your pharmacy. The pill-splitting device is designed to safely split the pill so that the two halves contain equal doses.

Ginger Skinner

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