Splitting some pills could pose health problems - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Splitting some pills could pose health problems

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) "We are familiar with people who do that and those are the most common reasons people do that is to save money and make the pills easier to swallow," said Dr. Michael Johnson.

In a new study, European researchers found splitting some pills might potentially have dangerous effects if the dosages deviate too much when pills are split.

At Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould, Doctor Michael Johnson says there are certain pills you don't need to split.

"Cardiac medicines, and hypertensive medicines, seizure medications, and neuroleptic type medications, that you don't want to half," said Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson says there are medications that a very small difference in dosage could have a dangerous effect  on someone's health.

"Medications that control rhythm of the heart is an example of a medication that you wouldn't want to split because it's so important to get the exact dosage.   If you do that over a period of time you definitely can see some side affects, unwanted side affects," said Johnson.

Dr. Johnson says pills that are scored, or split down the middle so when they are broken you get equal parts, typically are pretty safe to split, as a general rule.

"You just want to make sure that it's not a medication that small doses can make a huge difference," said Dr. Johnson.

"Make sure they have the visual acuity and they have the dexterity to do it and they use a pill splitter that's available at your pharmacy," said Stan Carmack.

Director of Pharmacy at AMMC, Stan Carmack, says first make sure it's safe to split the pills.  If it's ok, but you're not comfortable doing it--help is available.

"The pharmacist can split it for them," said Carmack.

Both say before you do anything different with your medications or to them, make sure you get some advice.

"Talk to your physician and talk to your pharmacist and let them take care of it," said Dr. Johnson.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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