Is it Safe to Split Pills to Save Money?

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Q: Is it safe to spilt pills to save money?

A: Many people often split medications to save money. Some insurers actually encourage their members to do so. However, only certain medications can be split. A good rule of thumb is that if there is a score (line) on the tablet, it can be assumed that the dose may be broken or split. However, this is not always the case. Prescriptions also contain extra labeling, such as "Do not crush/chew" for doses that should not be split. This is common in extended release or time release medcations. Always look for these advisory labels. Capsules must also be taken whole.

Check with the prescribing physician and/or dispensing pharmacist about splitting each medication, and look for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for splitting in the medication insert that comes with the pills.

Please note that when doses are split, each dose delivered may not be consistent. Not all tablets break or split into two equal parts so it can be difficult to dose broken tablets accurately. If a medication requires a very precise dosage, patients may want to consider getting that specific dosage prescribed in a full tablet. When a broken or split tablet is being used, make sure to monitor how the medication works and keep the pharmacist and prescriber informed.

If you are having difficulty affording your medications, there may be programs that can help.
Prescription Drug Assistance Program Locator »

Lynn Harrelson is a pharmacist who specializes in medication and prescription management for seniors. She provides health care services and information that help individuals remain independent in their homes, retirement and assisted living facilities.

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