The prohibitive cost of prescription medications has led some patients to start cutting their pills in half. As the thinking goes, it is better to get a consistently lower dose of medication on the same schedule than skipping doses to save money. Here’s the question: is it safe to cut your pills in half?
As with so many other health-related things, there is no black or white answer. Anyone attempting to be dogmatic with either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is being disingenuous. The only way to know whether splitting pills is a good idea is to consult with a doctor or pharmacist.
Doctors and pharmacists have different, but complementary, roles in the healthcare equation. Doctors specialize in diagnosing illnesses and prescribing treatments. Pharmacists are the experts in how prescription medications work. They are actually more qualified than doctors to determine dosage and frequency.
Doubling Up to Save
According to a 2015 Consumer Reports piece, doctors sometimes help their patients save money by prescribing a higher dose of medication with the understanding that patients will spit the pills in half. The savings are realized when higher dosages do not cost more. Even if they do, patients will still save money as long as the higher price is not double that of the lower dose.
This sort of thing is perfectly safe as long as the patient ultimately winds up with the correct dosage every time the medication is taken. If a patient is getting less than the recommended dosage, pill splitting may not be such a good idea.
Some Pills Shouldn’t Be Split
Consumer Reports explained in their piece that some pills shouldn’t be split. Their report specifically mentioned combination drugs, long-acting medications, and drugs that work on a time-release basis. Drugs in all three categories cannot be split in such a way as to guarantee accurate dosage for both halves.
Drugs with hard coatings probably shouldn’t be split either. They are given coatings to make them easier to swallow without crumbling or cracking on the way down. Splitting such pills would defeat the purpose of the coating.
Finally, certain types of drugs that require uncompromising consistency should not be split. They include birth control pills, cancer medications, anti-seizure medications, and a few others.
Use a Pill Splitter
One last thing to consider is how pills are actually split. It is never safe to attempt splitting with a kitchen knife. Most pills and capsules will simply crumble if you try to split them that way. In reality, you don’t want to cut a pill in half. You want to split it into two pieces similar to how you might break an ice cube.
Fortunately, there are specially designed tools for this very purpose. Canada Pharmacy, an online pharmacy licensed in Manitoba, sells a pill splitting tool on their website. It utilizes a combination of a thin razor and leverage to split pills rather than cutting them.
You can buy pill splitters at local pharmacies, department stores, and grocery stores. You can buy them at just about any online retailer that sells pharmaceutical products. They are pretty cheap and quite effective.
Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist
Is it safe to cut your pills in half? Do not try to make that decision yourself. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist to get the facts. It may be both safe and a good way to reduce your prescription drug costs. But splitting your pills might be unsafe as well. You really need to know what your doctor or pharmacist thinks before you proceed.