Use A Pill-Splitter To Keep Your Pharmacy Costs Down

Whether you have good health insurance or none at all, the costs of medications can be astronomical. Here's a tip for stretching your dollars at the pharmacy.

Photo by Sam Catchesides.

First of all, to take advantage of this great tip, the first thing you need to do is run the idea past your doctor. Here's how it works: With some medications, the higher the dose, the less you'll pay per milligram to have your prescription filled. In some cases, you might be able to get your medicine at double the dose you normally take, then cut it in half with a pill splitter.

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if the meds you take can be safely split, because some can't (the pill pictured above obviously wouldn't work so well, for example). If so, ask your doctor to write you a prescription for a higher strength pill and chop them in half yourself. Wisebread blogger Paul Michael runs the numbers on how much money you can potentially save with this method.

I take a medication that can be safely cut in half and therefore it was the perfect option for me... A medication with a $US50 monthly co-pay becomes a $US25 co-pay. That adds up to a healthy $US300 per year savings. If I'm on this for the rest of my life (I sure hope not) it would save me thousands and thousands of dollars. But even if it's just for another 3-4 years, that's still a savings of at least $US1200 on what is basically the same medication

Next time you visit your doctor, put your heads together to see if you can find a way to lower your pharmacy bills with ideas like this one. Thanks, Paul!

The $US5 Gadget That Can Save You Thousands of Dollars [Wise Bread]


Comments

    I've used this trick with sertraline. It's the same price for 50mg packs (the dose I was on) or 100mg packs, so I bought the 100mg packs and broke the pills in half. It's essentially buy one, get one free.

    A key point here is "safely cut in half".. Some medications (even ones that are tablets that are easily cut in half) shouldn't be, as there's no guarantee that half of a 100mg tablet will contain 50mg - which obviously your Dr should be able to advise (as the article states)..
    Point being that if you end up changing doses of something and it *seems* like you'll just be able to split older medicines that you already have to a lower dose, check with your Dr first.

    Most definately DO NOT do this with slow release type tabs. You could put yourself at very serious risk!! Oh, and if you're going to cut tabs with a splitter get a good one. It can be very difficult to accurately cut a tab in half even if it's got a line through it.

    Not sure a pill splitter works on capsules.

    Be REALLY careful with this one. Drugs may be placed in capsules or other release mechanisms to ensure that the medication is either released slowly or else in the right part of the digestive system (so that it won't be broken down before it even reaches your body).

    Interfere with this process in the first case and you could get an overdose; interfere in the second case and you might get no effect from the drug at all besides placebo, which is not exactly a value for money proposition.

    Bottom line - don't do this without checking with a pharmacist and/or doctor.

    I don't mean to disrespect doctors and the great work that they provide, but a little tip:

    Pharmacists are drug experts. Doctors know very little about drugs by comparison. Ask your pharmacist FIRST.

    You need to ask the doctor either way, since he needs to change the script. A pharmacist may not realize that you are splitting caps, and just think you need the higher dose.

    Either way, ask your pharmacist, and let him know what you want to do.

    Love,
    Random Pharmacist!

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