Dangerous drug cost cutting

September 27, 2011 8:09:09 PM PDT
The grim economy is prompting people to cut back on spending in many areas.

But there's one area where that could have dire consequences: prescription drugs.

Consumer Reports' just-released poll shows 28 percent of those taking medication have taken dangerous steps to cut their drug costs.

- Twelve percent skipped a scheduled dose.
- Thirteen percent took an expired medication.
- Sixteen percent skipped filling a prescription.

Not taking your medication as prescribed can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations and even to death, according to Consumer Reports medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur.

The survey also found 8 percent split pills in half without consulting a physician.

Consumer Reports says that some types of medication, such as blood-pressure pills and statins, may be OK to split. But chemotherapy or anti-seizure drugs are not.

Pills not to split include powder or gel capsules, time-release capsules, and pills with a hard coating. Be sure to always check with your doctor first.

Also, don't split pills with a knife. Instead, use a pill splitter. They're available at pharmacies for less than $10.

Consumer Reports says another way to save on prescription drugs is by purchasing generics. Many chains and some independent pharmacies allow you to buy a 30-day supply for $4. Some programs are free of charge, including the ones at Target and Walmart. Others charge a small annual fee, including those offered at CVS, Kmart, and Walgreens.