We spend more than 277-billion dollars a year on prescription drugs. With mounting costs, many doctors are advising patients like Saul Cohen to split pills. By splitting his Lipitor medication, he's cut his costs in half.
Saul Cohen says, "I used to split my 40-milligram tablets into 20s, therefore I saved half, which was about $700 a year."
But, not all pills are safe to split, so it's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.
A recent poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found of people who regularly take prescription drugs, 10-percent split their pills without telling their doctor.
Dr. John Santa with Consumer Reports says, "This can be downright dangerous. If you don't get the right dose, the effect of your pill can be significantly increased or reduced."
Flat, round pills are the easiest to split, as are pills with a scored center.
Among the safe-to-split drugs are many of the cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, as well as antidepressants and drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
Dr. Santa adds, "You never want to use a knife. The pill can crumble and the dose is imprecise."
Instead, use a pill splitter.
Dr. Santa says, "You just line it up, center the pill, and use the device."
And be aware, it's important not to split pills in advance, but rather split them as needed.
Pill splitters are sold at pharmacies and large discount stores. They cost anywhere from three to ten dollars. Another point worth mentioning - medications can only be safely split in half - never in thirds or quarters.