Some Split Pills to cut Prescription Costs

In the face of rising prescription costs, some are cutting the pills they take. Literally. And it means doctors like Peter Clothier are getting more patients looking for specific prescriptions.

"I've had more patients come to me with reccommendations in the mail from their insurance company saying ask your doctor for a double strength prescription," said Dr. Clothier.

Kaiser Permanente representatives started approaching doctors and clients by mail in 2005 about providing tablet splitters along with double strength pills.

"Over the years, co-pays and co-insurances have been going up and up, and this seemed to be a good way to alot of people to take a step back on certain medications where this would be appropriate," said Kaiser Permanente's Dan Danielson.

In some cases tablets of a higher strength cost as much as their lower strength counterparts. Cut in half, a patient gets two doses out of one pill, stretching the medication and the money they paid for it.

"I think as a way to control costs keep premiums down and also allow members to capture some of those savings too," said Danielson.

But the splitter isn't for every drug.The list of medications proper for splitting is limited to a specific few. Some won't fit into the device, and others shouldn't be tampered with as a matter of taking the prescription safely.

On the list of approved drugs are the choleserol lowering Lipitor and others like Zocor and Zoloft. And health care officials ask anyone thinking about using a pill splitter to ask a family doctor for specific instructions first.