I want to tell you about all the money you can save through pill splitting —which you may have heard of— but also pill growing, which you probably haven’t because I made up that term!
I don’t know why, but many medications cost the same amount regardless of the number of milligrams in each tablet. It’s weird. The pharmaceutical company is giving you more –sometimes twice as much– of its prized compound, but doesn’t charge you much –if any– extra for it.
Take Lipitor, the popular cholesterol drug. A 30-day supply of 20-milligram pills costs $127. But a 30-day supply of 40-milligram pills also costs… $127. Let’s say your prescription is to take one tablet twice a day. Instead of buying twice as many 20-milligram tablets, you can buy the 40-milligram ones and cut them in half. In this example, you would save more than 15-hundred dollars a year!
It’s important to check with your doctor and pharmacist before splitting pills. Some medications, like extended release formulas, should not be split. An easy way to tell if a pill is safe to split is if it is scored along the top for this very purpose.
Now, let’s talk about pill growing! I coined the term “pill growing” to describe another practice taking one big pill instead of a bunch of little pills. Again, since many pills cost the same amount, regardless of the actual milligram strength, this concept works in reverse too.
Here’s how it works. Often, a doctor will start you on a low dose of a medicine and then ramp up the dosage as your needs become clear. At first, it might make sense to just take more of the tablets you already have, to use them up. But if you keep doing it that way, you are probably wasting money.
Say you are on the antidepressant, Celexa. A single ten milligram pills costs $3.30. A single 40-milligram pills costs $3.60. So if you take four of the ten milligram pills, you are paying nearly four times as much as if you take one 40 milligram pill! If you “grow” your Celexa pills, you will save more than 35-hundred dollars a year.
Believe it or not, many doctors don’t think of this idea. So ask if the medication you’re taking comes in a larger dose and then find out how much that larger dose costs and whether it will save you money.