Americans are no strangers to prescription drugs – the good, the bad, and the ugly. At any given time, about half of the U.S. population report taking at least one prescription drug in the past month, while a quarter are prescribed three drugs in the same time period, according to the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention (CDC).
Whichever way you slice it up, that’s a lot of drugs and plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. This is why health authorities are warning consumers against a common practice with prescription drugs that could put you at risk. They say doing this one thing to your pills can harm your liver, and you should never do it without seeing your doctor first.
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According to a recent report sponsored by UnitedHealth Group, more than half of Americans say they would consider sharing their pills at home as a way to save money on their medications. But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls it a “risky practice,” pointing out the health concerns associated with pill splitting.
“At some point, your healthcare or managed care company may have recommended pill splitting for reasons like adjusting your medication dosage or reducing costs. In such cases, it is the responsibility of your healthcare professional to monitor the impact of the risks associated with the practice of splitting tablets, ”shares the FDA via its website. “The FDA does not encourage the practice of tablet splitting unless specified in the drug’s professional prescribing information,” Mansour khan, PhD, a representative of the FDA’s Bureau of Pharmaceutical Sciences, added in an interview with Pharmacy hours.
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Dosing errors are known to cause acute liver failure, even with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen. More severe prescription drugs can have a profound effect on the liver when mishandled by consumers.
It turns out that dosing errors are very common when consumers split their own prescription pills at home. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that about a third of cut pills are distributed unevenly with doses changed by 15 percent or more. Another 14 percent of the pills cut by patients are down 25 percent or more. Taken in amounts greater than prescribed, some drugs may become toxic rather than therapeutic.
Besides the prevalence of dosing errors caused by splitting pills, there is another problem with cutting your pills at home – some medications have coatings designed to release your medication more slowly. “When you cut a long-acting pill, you can end up squeezing the dose out much higher and faster, which can be dangerous,” Maria Torroella Carney, MD, division chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine and Northwell Health, told the Single Care medical site. Look for markings on the label that indicate an extended-release drug (often marked “XR”) or “enteric-coated tablets”. These are designed to protect the stomach by dissolving only after reaching the intestines, so cutting them in half can cause dangerous side effects as the drug is released sooner than expected.
“Most prolonged, controlled or scheduled release drugs are not meant to be split. In the rare event that fractionation is recommended for this type of drug, this information will be printed in the “HOW SUPPLIED” section of the professional label insert and in the patient’s package insert, “says the FDA.
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The tablets marked in the middle can be divided safely at home. This is true for two reasons. First, the scoring suggests that the manufacturers intended consumers to divide the pills, and second, you should be able to divide your pills into more precise doses using the scoring as a guide. If you to do choose to split your pills at home, invest in a pill splitting device for safe and even distribution, and split one pill at a time as needed.
“However, some tablets may not be suitable for this method due to their unique shape and size, even though they appear to be scored. It is important to discuss this with your healthcare professional to determine what is best for you. best fits, ”says the FDA.
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