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Poll: Economy forces some to cut corners with prescription medications

October 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM 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.

A newly released poll shows more than a quarter of people taking medication have taken dangerous steps to cut their drug costs.

Consumer Reports National Research Center found in its latest poll on prescription drugs that some people struggling to pay for prescription drugs try cutting corners with their medications.

"Twenty-eight percent of people who currently take medication said they took potentially dangerous actions to save on drug costs," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports medical adviser and editor.

Twelve percent skipped a scheduled dose. Thirteen percent took an expired medication. And 16 percent skipped filling a prescription.

"Not taking your medication as prescribed can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations and even death," said Avitzur.

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

"Some type of medication, such as blood-pressure pills and statins, may be OK to split. But chemotherapy or anti-seizure drugs are not," said Avitzur. "Be sure to always check with your doctor first."

Consumer Reports says pills not to split include powder or gel capsules, time-release capsules, and pills with a hard coating.

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

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