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Two Pills for the Price of One?

Find out whether you can split your pills to save money on your prescriptions.

If you've tried just about everything to save money on prescription drugs, you may want to put your pills on the chopping block. Splitting pills in half can sometimes give you two pills for the price of one. We're not talking about taking a lower dose than prescribed or skipping a dose altogether. But some pills of different strengths (e.g., 20 mg and 40 mg) are sold for the same (or nearly the same) price.

Here are some tips on how to split pills safely and cost-effectively:

  1. Ask your doctor if your medication is a candidate for splitting. Some tablets are not available in double doses or are available only in capsules that cannot be split. Others have time-release formulations that would not work if halved. Candidates for splitting include cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor, Zocor, and Pravachol and antidepressants such as Paxil, Celexa, and Zoloft.
  2. If your doctor gives you the okay, shop around for the best price at double your dose. Keep in mind, splitting some medications will not provide any meaningful cost savings. Check with your health insurer or pharmacy assistance program to find out if changing your prescription for this purpose is permitted.
  3. Buy a good quality plastic pill splitter, available for three to six dollars at most pharmacies. Even if your pills are scored, your hand steady and your knife sharp, this simple device is worth the investment to ensure you get the right dose. Just place your pill at the base of the V-shaped holder, and lower the lever to slice the pill right down the middle. Your pharmacist may offer to do the job for you.
  4. Get your prescription filled at double the appropriate dose, and split the tablets in half as soon as you get them to make sure you don't accidentally take the wrong dose.

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