Study warns that splitting pills can be dangerous

Physicians frequently recommend that caregivers split pills to give patients smaller doses than are available by prescription, but that process can produce wide variation in dosages, particularly if a commercial pill-splitter is not used and often even if one is employed, Belgian researchers report.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, that splitting pills “can be a particular problem for drugs in which a precise dosage is crucial with measured dosages off by 25% or more in some cases.”

The reported was in the Journal of Advanced Nursing and called on drug manufacturers to make more dosages of some of the more problematic drugs available.

Using a splitting device “produced an error of more than 25% in 8% of cases, compared with 19% for the scissors and 17% for the knife.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Health & Science Today” blog reports, “Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium reported that tablet-splitting is especially dangerous when it involves medications that have a narrow margin between a therapeutic dose and a toxic dose.”

The researchers “found that 31% of the tablet fragments deviated from their target weight.”

The bottom line is that you should NEVER split pills without first checking with your pharmacist.

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