How to Save Money on Medicines
No matter how healthy we may be, most of us buy pharmacy medicines from time to time. After all, no bathroom cabinet would be complete without a pack of painkillers, for instance, or a remedy or two for an upset stomach.
However, it may come as a surprise to learn that, where some medicines are concerned, cheaper doesn't necessarily mean less effective. Many less expensive medicines contain the same ingredients as the pricier big name brands – yet, according to a survey by the Consumers' Association Which?, two-thirds of people choose branded medicines because they believe they work better than unbranded (or generic) versions.
It's true that some cheaper, generic medicines don't come with fancy packaging or the backing of a slick TV advertising campaign, but they work in exactly the same way. The trick is in knowing what to look for. To help, here's a quick guide to some common generic medicines that can save you money…
Make big savings by switching from name brands to generic pain relief tablets: for instance, generic paracetamol is a fraction of the price of branded paracetemol-containing painkillers. Yet the active ingredient is the same. You can also buy generic soluble paracetemol, which similarly costs far less than branded versions.
Generic ibuprofen is also significantly cheaper than big-brand ibuprofen-based pain relief. Meanwhile, for harder-to-shift pain, generic paracetemol and codeine is available at a significantly lower cost than well-known brands. Even children's medicines come in cheaper, no-frills generic versions (junior paracetemol and junior ibuprofen). Just make sure you ask for a junior medicine that's suitable for your child's age.
If you're unlucky enough to suffer from hayfever or other allergies, you may well spend a small fortune every year on remedies that keep your symptoms at bay. Thankfully many budget generic hayfever/allergy medicines are now available, including:
Loratadine A non-drowsy antihistamine used to suppress hayfever and other allergy symptoms, loratadine is the active ingredient in a number of well-known allergy relief brands – but buy it in its generic format and you'll save more than just pennies.
Cetirizine hydrochloride Another antihistamine, cetirizine hydrochloride is also the active ingredient in some popular hayfever/allergy brands, but again it's far cheaper if you buy the generic version.
Instead of buying branded diarrhoea capsules, ask for loperamide tablets – loperamide is the active ingredient in the branded remedies too, but the generic version costs a lot less.
Single-dose thrush treatments appeared on the market a few years ago and are popular because they're easy to use. But the branded treatments aren't exactly cheap. The active ingredient in these treatments is fluconazole, which is now available as a generic medicine. Ask for fluconazole instead of a brand name, and you could save almost half the cost.
• Always ask your pharmacist to recommend the cheapest brands when buying over-the-counter medicines – you'll be amazed how much money you can save in a short amount of time if you have to buy medicines regularly.
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