Heart Beat: Splitting the difference

Heart Beat

Splitting the difference

If you take a cholesterol-lowering statin, you may be able to slash the cost of the drug in half by doing what the Veterans Affairs medical system is doing: Buy an inexpensive pill splitter (see figure, below) and get a prescription for the next higher dose.

Some of the statins are priced so that you pay nearly the same amount for a higher dose as you do for a lower one (see "Statin costs" below). For example, if you only need 40 milligrams (mg) of Lipitor a day, splitting an 80-mg tablet could save you almost $600 a year.

Splitting pills with a simple tool available in most drug stores has been advocated as a cost-saving measure for some time. The VA system started a pilot program in 1999 for veterans taking Zocor. After a year, levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol were just as good in the veterans who were splitting pills as it was in those taking whole tablets.

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