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Split pills to save money on prescription drug bills.

You can save a significant amount of money by splitting your pills and in effect using them more efficiently. It is strongly recommended to talk to a doctor or pharmacist first, before doing this. Also, the staff at community clinics may provide advice on the process. However anyone looking to save some money on their prescription medications should consider splitting pills to meet this goal.

The potential savings can be significant. For example, there is an example of one patient who was paying about $45 a month for her prescription Zocor medications, and needless to she was not very happy about the high cost of these cholesterol-reducing tablets. The individual then started looking around to try to save money on these costs. Zocor wasn't on the $4 prescription list at many pharmacies such as Target, Giant Eagle or Kroger. But the individual did find it on the discount list at Walmart.

So what occurred next lead to significant savings. The patient was then able to buy a 90-day supply for a $15 co-pay and, with the approval of the doctor, started the process of splitting pills. The patient, using with their medical professional’s approval, went ahead and doubled the strength of her Zocor prescription. After this was done they then physically split her pills by cutting her Zocor pills in half so they would last six months. This in effect doubled the amount of the drug and extended the timeframe of how long it will last.

What this means is the individual split their prescription medications. After this, the annual bill for her Zocor medication went from $530 to $30. A savings of $500 per year! This process can also be combined with other programs. Find how you can save on prescriptions from companies like Walgreens and others. More.

Is splitting pills safe?

Yes. Prescription drug pill splitting is a growing trend, and it is one that is recommended by physicians, health insurers, and pharmacists. However only certain types of pills, such as ones that lower cholesterol and blood pressure and antidepressants are candidates for splitting. Also, most critically, you should always have your physician's approval before doing this. But it is safe, just ask first.

A professor and clinical pharmacist at the University of Michigan Health System said that splitting prescription drug pills is not a novel concept and it has been around for many years. While it is impossible to quantify the aggregate savings, it may be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, using the results of various medical studies, splitting pills, such as cholesterol pills, does not reduce their effectiveness.





The results of this study encourage many health insurance companies and doctors to initiate a pill-splitting saving program. It has saved companies, insurers, and patients hundreds of millions of dollars over the year. At one university hospital, it saved more than 500 employees about $25,000 in co-pay costs. All across the nation it is estimated that tends of thousands of people are using this approach every day to save a significant amount of money on their health care costs and medications.

Health insurers split prescription drugs

Now, many health insurers such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Aetna, and others offer “half-tablet programs”, which is another name for split pills. The trends is also growing. About 12.5 percent of United Healthcare members are using the half-tab program. Blue Cross and BlueShield is also pushing this money saving tip onto their members. United Healthcare even provides its clients with free tablet-splitters, and these devices are also sold at most pharmacies. A common antidepressant medication such as Lexapro is a good candidate for splitting.

Even the federal government is pushing this program as a way to save on prescription drugs and medical bills. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs introduced a pill-splitting program for Zocor and it saved over $46 million the first year. So both private insurers and the government will provide details on how and when to split prescription drug medications.

However, not every pill can be split. Various medical directors for United Healthcare, which is the nation’s largest health insurance company, always stress caution. They generally allow people to split both cholesterol and blood pressure pills. After all, nobody should leave any money on the table. United Health has not met any resistance from doctors, however as indicated you should always ask that question first, before splitting your medications.

How much can you save on medical bills by splitting prescription medications?

It will vary based on the health condition and the cost of the medication. Many health insurance companies offer programs that strongly encourage members to start pill-splitting for certain drugs to save money. Some examples:




  • Lexapro antidepressant
    • Before cost: $1,031.88 (retail price without drug-insurance coverage)
    • After splitting cost: $635.88 (halving 15 20-milligram tablets each month)
    • Savings: $396 per year
  • Zocor cholesterol-lowering drug
    • Before cost: $528 per year
    • After splitting cost: $30 (cutting double-dose pills in half and working with a pharmacy that had Zocor as one of its $4 prescriptions.)
    • Savings: $498 per year

What drugs qualify for splitting?

Always check with your doctor, pharmacist, and/or health insurer before doing this. However, United Healthcare is one of the many insurers that encourage physicians and clients to split prescription drug medicines when appropriate. Most doctors also support the process. Most health insurers list these medications as being candidates for their half-tablet program. The list of approved medications is always changing, so call your insurer for the latest updates.

ACE inhibitors, which are often used to lower blood pressure: Aceon, Mavik, Moexipril (generic Univasc)

Angiotensin receptor blockers, which are often used to lower blood pressure: Atacand, Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar, Diovan

Antidepressants: Lexapro, Pexeva, Sertraline (generic Zoloft)

The cholesterol-lowering drugs: Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol (and its generic equivalent, Pravastatin sodium)

Other one off medications may be Viagra, Accupril, Paxil, Zyprexa, Mevacor, Zestril, Celexa. But this list is a just a sampling.

Note: Always check with the doctor, insurer, or pharmacist before doing this. The list of prescription drugs that can be safely split is always changing. Generally there are more medications being approved for this approach. Also anyone can visit




Other questions

While pill-splitting can in fact cut your prescription medicine bills and co-payments in half, keep these things in mind as well. The process is straightforward, but patients should always move forward cautiously. This is true of splitting pills and really any other health care needs.

  • Never try splitting pills without first consulting your pharmacist, doctor and/or health insurance provider.  Get their approval first.
  • Not all prescription pills can be split. The most common candidates for this method are medications for depression and for lowering cholesterol or blood pressure. Pills that are coated, or time-released, are also not good candidates for splitting.
  • When doing this, only use an approved tablet-splitter to divide medications, not a kitchen knife or some other type of sharp instrument. Some healthcare providers and pharmacists offer the proper tools for free. They also can be purchased at most pharmacies.

By Jon McNamara

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