Doctors say don't split pills

FRESNO, Calif.

Medical experts warn, before you literally cut the cost of your medication ... talk to your doctor.

We spend more than $277-billion 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. "I used to split my 40-milligram tablets into 20s, therefore I saved half, which was about 700 dollars a year."

However, 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 said, "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.

"You never want to use a knife," said Dr. Santa. "The pill can crumble and the dose is imprecise."

Instead, use a pill splitter.

Dr. Santa said, "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.

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