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The curious case of splitting tablets to save money: Is it safe?

Prescription drugs cost high even when they are brought through online pharmacies. While some people find generic alternatives to cut costs, a few others resort to creative ways like splitting tablets. In the latter case, people request their doctor to give a higher strength prescription and then, split the tablets into half to get the prescribed dosage suggested by the physician. This seems like a logical solution as the patient gets the dosage required and also, saves money on prescription drugs. But the question is, is it safe to split tablets?

Problems in splitting tablets: There are a few problems in splitting tablets. One of them is lack of uniformity in the distribution of medication in a tablet. Medscape conducted a study which looked at eleven different tablets that are commonly used by patients. After splitting of all tablets, it was found that eight out of the eleven tablets had uneven distribution of medication. This was a great revelation as patients eating tablets split into half will not get the right amount of medication. This may not be a serious problem with harmless or less critical medications, but it can turn life-threatening and dangerous with chronic medications or medicines that have toxic substances.


Another problem with splitting tablets is, you cannot split certain tablets evenly. This is very true of painkillers and other medications. You cannot split them evenly and you may end up taking in crooked half tablets which contain different amounts of dosage. Added to that, senior citizens may find it had to split tablets. The tools used for splitting should be sterilized and hygienic, else your tablet can contribute to the germ population in your body. Unequal or fragmented splitting can result in you taking improper dosage daily. This can affect your health if you are taking prescriptions for a longer period of time.

Problems in taking fragmented tablets: Fragmented or crooked half tablets may not work as efficiently as complete tablets. Say, if you are splitting a 500 mg tablet in order to take 250 mg of dosage twice a day, if your tablet is split improperly, you may not get the exact 250 mg daily. Medical Letter’s study on tablet splitting says that there were no effects in patients who took split tablets for cholesterol and blood pressure. The patients showed no sign of reduced cholesterol or blood pressure, creating doubts about how split tablets function.

Is it safe to split tablets? The answer is Yes and No. It is a safe strategy when used with harmless medications, but not so safe with drugs that are taken for serious or chronic illnesses. Especially, it should never be done with heart medications, seizure medications, diabetes medications and other drugs for chronic conditions. There are can be two kinds of reactions with split tablets – they can be impotent or over-potent. Both are perilous if taken for a long time.

Conclusion? Split tablets if you want to save money. But do not overdo it to the extent of affecting your health. Consult with your doctor on whether it is safe and then decide.

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The curious case of splitting tablets to save money: Is it safe?

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