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Pill Splitting Can Save Money, But Talk to Your Doctor First
- Forgetting to split a tablet or being confused by the correct dose, which can lead to accidental overdose
- Not splitting the pill evenly
- Pills with unusual shapes or sizes may be difficult to split
Splitting—Not Safe for All Drugs
- Those manufactured as capsules
- Drugs available in only one dose
- Medicines that are not taken orally, such as asthma drugs administered by inhaler
- Prepackaged pills, such as birth control pills
- Those that cannot easily be broken
- Pills with an enteric coating, which allows the drug to remain whole until it passes through the stomach to the intestine
- Any medicines that are extended release
Talk to Your Doctor Before You Split Pills
- Cognitive impairment
- Debilitating arthritis
- Poor dexterity or eyesight
- Recurring tremors
Familydoctor.org, American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org/
The Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research http://www.fda.gov/cder
Healthy Living Unit (Public Health Canada) http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
Canada Safety Council http://www.safety-council.org/
Best Practices for Tablet Splitting. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/ucm184666.htm. Updated October 21, 2009, Accessed April 10, 2013
Choe HM, Stevenson JG, Streetman DS, Heisler M, Sandiford CJ, Piette JD. Impact of patient financial incentives on participation and outcomes in a statin pill-splitting program. Am J Manag Care. 2007 Jun;13(6 Part 1):298-304.
Cohen CI, Cohen SI. Potential cost savings from pill-splitting of newer psychotropic medications. Psychiatr Serv. 2000 Apr;51(4):527-9.
Cross M. Two for the price of one beauty of pill-splitting catches on. Manag Care. 2003 Feb;12(2):36-8. No abstract available.
Miller DP, Furberg CD, Small RH, Millman FM, Ambrosius WT, Harshbarger JS, Ohl CA. Controlling prescription drug expenditures: a report of success. Am J Manag Care. 2007 Aug;13(8):473-80.
Physicians Desk Reference. 56th ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc; 2002.
Stafford RS, Radley DC. The potential of pill splitting to achieve cost savings. The Am J Managed Care. 2002;8:707-712.
Tablet splitting: a risky practice. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm171492.htm. Updated July 21, 2009. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Winslow R. Study finds splitting pills usually safe, saves money. The Wall Street Journal Online. Accessed August 30, 2002.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 04/2013
- Update Date: 04/10/2013