4 Smart Ways to Split Pills

JANUARY 10, 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Pill splitting is a common strategy among patients looking to save money amid rising drug costs.
In fact, United Healthcare has actively urged its members to ask for more potent drugs with the intention of splitting them to reduce monthly prescription copays.
The health insurer’s “Half Tablet Program” purports to help patients lower their copays by as much as 50% on a select group of medications, including cholesterol drugs Lipitor and Crestor, as well as popular antidepressants Zoloft and Lexapro.
However, the FDA has deemed pill splitting a “risky practice” and advises against the practice unless a drug’s package insert specifically says it is approved for splitting.
An analysis from Consumer Reports offers 4 smart steps that pharmacy staff can share with patients to ensure they safely split pills.
1. Ask for a Pharmacist’s Approval.
About 8% of consumers admit to splitting pills without receiving approval from a pharmacist or physician.
Certain drugs for certain conditions—including high cholesterol medications like lovastatin (Mevacor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor), and depression medications like sertraline (Zoloft)—can be split without reducing drug efficacy or causing negative side effects.
However, other medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), omeprazole (Prilosec), chemotherapy drugs, and contraceptives should never be split.