Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon
The People's Pharmacy
March 20, 2006
My doctor told me to take half a tablet of Lipitor a day. In a magazine ad, it said not to cut tablets but didn't say why. Do you know why Lipitor shouldn't be broken?
Some pills have special coatings or time-release formulations that would make splitting them dangerous. Cutting such a tablet would make its absorption unpredictable.
This is not the case with Lipitor, however. Researchers at Veterans Affairs and Kaiser Permanente in California determined that splitting atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor) and simvastatin (Zocor) was an effective way to lower costs without compromising cholesterol control. The study was published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (November/December 2002).
I keep reading about taking aspirin on a daily basis to cut my risk of a heart attack. Now the experts are saying this daily dose of aspirin also will help cut my chance of developing breast cancer. How much aspirin does it take to do this?
The heart-protective effects of aspirin were discovered in the 1950s. Yet, even after all this time, there is controversy over the proper dose.
Dr. James Dalen recently reviewed the most important clinical trials involving aspirin. He concluded that 160 milligrams (half a regular tablet or two 81-milligram tablets) is the most appropriate daily dose for preventing heart attacks and strokes (American Journal of Medicine, March 2006).
The optimal dose for preventing cancer has not yet been determined.