Dear wise elder,
When is it safe or not to split the pills? I have a cousin who cuts almost all of her pills in half to save money, but I wonder if she is going too far. What can you tell me about this?
– Curious cousin
Splitting pills – literally cutting them in half – has long been a popular way to save on drug costs, but your cousin, if she hasn’t already, should talk to her doctor or pharmacist. because not all pills need to be split.
The reason why pill splitting saves money is the way drugs are made and their price. A pill that is twice as strong as another may not be twice as expensive. In fact, it’s usually the same price. So buying a double dose and halving it can get you two months of medicine for the price of one. But is it safe? As long as your doctor agrees that splitting your pills is okay for you, learning how to do it correctly, and only splitting pills that can be split, there really is no danger.
Ask your doctor
If you want to split your pills, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of the medicines you are using can be safely split. It is also important to know if dividing them will save you enough money to justify the hassle.
The easiest pills to split are those with a score in the middle. However, not all rated pills are meant to be split. The pills that are most often divided are cholesterol lowering drugs, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications.
Using a pill divider
Having the right equipment is also very important. Do not use a knife or scissors to cut your pills in half. This can cause you to divide them unevenly, resulting in two pieces with very different dosages, which can be dangerous. Buy a suitable pill cutter that has a lid and a V-shaped handle that holds the pill securely in place. You can find them at most drugstores for $ 5-10.
For convenience, you might be tempted to split the entire pill bottle at once. But it’s best to split up on the day you take the first half and then take the other half on the second day or whenever you need to take your next dose. This will help prevent the drugs from spoiling due to exposure to heat, moisture, or air. This will also help ensure that any deviation in the size of one dose is made up for in the next. It is also important to know that the pills are only safely divided in half, and never in smaller portions, such as thirds or quarters.
Do not divide these drugs
Some pills should never be split. Sustained or long-lasting release drugs and tablets containing a combination of drugs should probably not be divided, as it is difficult to ensure an appropriate amount of active ingredient in each half. Pills with a coating to protect your stomach and pills that easily crumble or irritate the mouth should also not be divided, as well as chemotherapy drugs, anti-seizure drugs, birth control pills and capsules containing powders or gels.
Again, your doctor or pharmacist will know which drugs can and cannot be divided. If you are taking a medicine that can be divided, you will need to get a prescription from your doctor for twice the dose you need. Then you can safely start dividing and saving.
Send questions to seniors to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of the book “The Savvy Senior”.