August 01, 2001
St. Petersburg Times carries a Wall Street Journal
article on "Little Know Option: To Cut Costs, Cut Pills" which
says, in part:
Pill splitting is a deceptively simple way to save money on drugs,
but few consumers or even doctors are aware that its an option.
A quirk in the way drugs are manufactured and priced means
many drugs cost about the same per pill, regardless of the dosage.
As a result, patients who buy a larger pill that contains twice the
dose they need can cut it in half and save as much as 50% percent
of the cost.
A patient who needs a 75 milligram does of Pfizer's anti-depressant
Zoloft would pay $6.66 to take three 25 milligram pills. But
splitting a combination of 100 milligram and 50 milligram pills to
achieve a 75 milligram dose lowers the cost to $2.53, a savings
of 62% percent - more then $1,500.00 annually!!
Given that many uninsured patients have several prescriptions,
the annual savings from pill splitting can add up to thousands of
dollars per year.
Splitting pills as a way to lower drug costs is controversial. Some
pills - such as capsulets or extended-release tablets - can't be
cut in half. And some pharmaceuticals executives say it's
dangerous to suggest pill splitting as an option for saving money,
because consumers may split the wrong pill.
"Once you establish a precedent that medicine can be split,
people might make the mistake of splitting one that can't," said
Mar Horn, director of medical alliances for Pfizer. "Someone
will get into trouble."
It's the way pills are manufactured and priced that makes pill
splitting possible. Many pills are "scored" - manufactured with an
indented line down the middle - for the sole purpose of allowing
them to be cut in half. Drug firms score pills to give doctor's
flexibility to adjust a patient's dosage so pharmacies don't
have to stock dozens of those sizes.
Many drugs are priced the same regardless of the dose
because drugmakers don't want cost to be a factor when
doctor's are deciding how much of a drug to prescribe.
Although some patients may worry the splitting of pills will
results in an uneven cut and a dose that is slightly high or
low, Rogers said those variations rarely matter.
Only your doctor can prescribe a larger-dose pill, so patients must
discuss pill-splitting with a physician (i.e. ask for the large dosage
medication IF the doctor says that pill can be split).
Makes sense to me!!