Cutting drug costs in half... literally
TEXT OF STORY
SCOTT JAGOW: Generic drugs are one way employers and insurers can cut the cost of prescriptions. The University of Michigan has come up with another way: cutting pills in half. Researchers found it's good for the company bottom line — and for patients. Helen Palmer reports from our Health Desk at WGBH.
Helen Palmer: You can't split every kind of pill. For example, it won't work with capsules. But it works fine with cholesterol-lowering medications and a trial program in Michigan saved a bundle.
Haemi Choe: The University of Michigan saved almost $200,000 for 2006.
Study author Haemi Choe from the University's School of Pharmacy says patients got lower co-pays as an incentive — typically paying $7 a month instead of $14.
Still, Choe says nearly 90 percent of pill-splitters said they'd continue the program in return for the price break.
But Frank Palumbo of Maryland University warns there are dangers — especially for the elderly who have trouble keeping track of their drugs.
Frank Palumbo: If you add in the necessity of splitting tablets, you're going to really compromise their health, I think.
But drug costs are rising faster than inflation, so Palumbo says it's an idea likely to spread.
In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Altering prescription medication dosage should only be done after consulting with your pharmacist and/or doctor. Some medications will not work properly if the tablet is cut in half. Tablets which are specially-coated or which have a controlled release may be ineffective if broken, cut in half or otherwise compromised.