A cost-cutting move: "Splitting pills can save you hundreds of dollars," says Randall S. Stafford, MD, PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine. Depending on the drug, you may be able to save serious money (and time spent at the pharmacy) by having your doctor prescribe larger doses that you cut in half. "It makes sense if you don’t have good drug coverage or you don’t have any because you’re self-employed or between jobs," he explains.
- Critics warn that an uneven cut could deliver the wrong dose. But so far, studies show that selected drug intakes balance out because the medication is taken daily. So cut one pill at a time, not the whole bottle, and take the halves one after the other to even the dosage. Discard any that shatter.
Other tips: Ask your doctor if your pills are okay to halve. Some, like time-release tablets, aren’t safe to split. Then buy a splitter, which costs about $6 at drugstores. For the most versatility, choose one that accommodates specific shaped pills.
If you take: an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressureYou can split: Aceon, Mavik, UnivascAnd save*: $183 to $254 per year
If you take: angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) for high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, or diabetesYou can split: Atacand, Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar, DiovanAnd save*: $203 to $338 per year
If you take: antidepressantsYou can split: Lexapro, Pexeva, ZoloftAnd save*: $385 to $555 per year
If you take: cholesterol-lowering medicationsYou can split: Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol, ZocorAnd save*: $174 to $819 per year
*Estimated savings per year based on the purchase of 90 pills at a time.
Originally published in MORE magazine, December 2006/January 2007 as "Split Your Drug Bill."