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Cheap Hayfever Tablets

Quickly slash the cost of hayfever remedies
Hayfever is not to be sneezed at - cases have more than doubled since this time last year. Dust and pollen allergies can be hard on the pocket as well as the nose, so it's important you're getting the most meds for your money.

You can legally get exactly the same allergy relief for less than half the normal price. Find dirt-cheap generic equivalents of your hayfever medication, then cut the cost further with online deals.

How to find cheap tablets

Buying branded hayfever tablets is almost always more expensive. Yet if the active ingredient is the same, you're still buying the same product. When a company develops a drug, it is given unique rights to sell it for a number of years. Once the term ends, any company can make it, providing it meets the regulations.

Most over-the-counter drugs have identical medical properties regardless of brand.

The key thing is to find what the 'active' ingredient of your usual remedy is. Then buy the cheapest with the same ingredient.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) says: "Regardless of cost, and whether they are branded or generic, all medicines are made to the same standards, so you can be reassured your medicine is safe. Branded and generic products are the same if the dose of the drug and the formulation (eg, tablet or a liquid) are the same."

For more on this, read the 20+ Medicine Savings guide.

Quick warnings before you start

Once you've got the correct active ingredient, you're ready to sniff out a bargain. However, before taking any replacement tablets there are some important points to check...

Check the ingredients

Be careful with food or drug allergies

Check the use-by date

You'll need to fill out a questionnaire when buying online

Only shop at legitimate online pharmacies

If you know of any other reliable online pharmacies which undercut these, please report them here to let us know.

Cheap tablets: 90 for £4

The following are generally the cheapest suppliers for the main major brands (with the exception of Benadryl, as there are no generic versions available).

Prices change regularly so always check before you buy and remember this is just a guide; always check the packet of the remedy you commonly use to find the active ingredient.

Buying online won't be practical if you're in the middle of an attack so the high street might be your best bet. Shops such as Boots have own-brand and branded tablets on offer, so for the best deal always check the back of the packet and then go for the cheapest price.

Important: not all tablets are one-a-day. There are different types of drugs as we explain, but some tablets need to be taken more regularly than others so consider this when comparing cost. For example, 10 one-a-day tablets for £1 may seem more expensive than 10 tablets for 90p which you take every 4 hours, but the one-a-day tablets will last MUCH longer.

Prices updated 20 March 2015 from Sainsburys.co.uk, Superdrug.com, Asda.com, Boots.com, Tesco.com and Morrisons press office. Prices can fluctuate so always check before you buy 'em.

Cetirizine

Sneeze-free for just over 4p a day

Cetirizine (Zirtek equivalent)

NHS description: Cetirizine is used to treat allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis, hay fever and urticaria (an itchy lumpy rash). It is available as tablets which are taken by mouth.

Cheapest online deal: Chemist-4-U*

30 tablets for 69p + £1.99 delivered (90 tablets for £4.06 all-in).

  • Pack price: 69p/30 tablets.
  • Delivery price: £1.99 (free over £20).
  • Pack expiry date: June 2016 or beyond.
  • Min order: None.
  • Max order: 12 packs.

More info on Cetirizine

Cheapest one-a-day tablets
Cheapest own brand in stores Cheapest branded tablets
Morrisons: £1.19 (14 tablets)
Asda: £1.40 (14 tablets)
Tesco: £1.50 (14 tablets)
Sainsbury's: £1.80 (14 tablets)
Boots: £2.99 (7 tablets)
Boots: £0.99 (7 tablets)
Asda: £2 (7 tablets)
Tesco: £2.50 (7 tablets)
Loratadine

The joint cheapest deal - Clarityn equivalent

Loratadine

NHS description: Loratadine is an antihistamine. It blocks the effects of a chemical which causes symptoms of allergy such as itching and hayfever.

Cheapest online deal: Chemist-4-U*

30 tablets for 69p + £1.99 delivered (90 tablets for £4.06 all-in).

  • Pack price: 69p/30 tablets.
  • Delivery price: £1.99 (free over £20).
  • Pack expiry date: May 2017 or beyond.
  • Min order: None.
  • Max order: 12 packs.

More info on Loratadine

Cheapest one-a-day tablets
Cheapest own brand in stores Cheapest branded tablets
Morrisons: £1.19 (14 tablets)
Asda: £1.40 (14 tablets)
Tesco: £1.50 (14 tablets)
Sainsbury's: £1.80 (14 tablets)
Superdrug: £2.49 (7 tablets)
Boots: £2.99 (7 tablets)
Asda: £1.30 (14 tablets)
Superdrug: £3.49 (14 tablets)
Chlorphenamine

Piriton equivalent for less

Chlorphenamine

NHS description: Chlorphenamine is an antihistamine which can be used to treat many types of allergies such as hayfever, food or medicine allergies, rhinitis, urticaria or insect bites. It is also used to treat itching that is caused by chicken pox.

Cheapest online deal: Chemist-4-U*

28 tablets for 69p + £1.99 delivered (84 tablets for £4.06 all-in)

  • Pack price: 69p/28 tablets.
  • Delivery price: £1.99 (free over £20).
  • Pack expiry date: Oct 2016 or beyond.
  • Min order: None.
  • Max order: 50 packs

More info on Chlorphenamine

Cheapest tablets: taken every 4-6 hours
Cheapest own brand in stores Cheapest branded tablets
Boots: £3.19 (30 tablets) Boots: £3.59 (30 tablets)
Benadryl

Benadryl - shop around to save

No generic equivalent

NHS description: Benadryl contains two medicines, acrivastine and pseudoephedrine. Acrivastine belongs to a group of medicines called antihistamines which help to reduce the symptoms of allergies such as redness, itching and swelling. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant which reduces swelling inside the nose and helps ease breathing. It may cause dizziness and sleepiness. See here for a full description.

Here, there are no generic equivalents, so it's all about getting the cheapest Benadryl in stores, if that's the one you want.

More info on Benadryl

Cheapest Benadryl (take up to three a day)
Cheapest own brand in stores Cheapest branded tablets
N/A Morrisons: £3.99 (12 tablets)
Boots: £3.99 (12 tablets)
Superdrug: £3.99 (12 tablets)
Sainsbury's: £4.70 (12 tablets)

Important! Ensure you know how to shop safely before trying these deals

DOs:
  • For safety, pay by credit card if £100+

  • Protect purchases under £100

DON'Ts:
  • Use unfamiliar sites without checking

  • Let your antivirus run out

Full DOs and DONT's

Is it cheaper to get a prescription?

How cost effective a prescription is depends on where you live:

** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **
  • Live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland? Here, prescriptions are free. Visit your GP to get your hayfever or allergy medication by prescription and you won't pay a penny. Try to get the longest supply you can.

  • Live in England? Most people pay for prescriptions at £8.05 a go, so it all depends how many tablets you are prescribed.

    You may get a month's worth for £8.05, you may get three. Just do the maths versus the cheapest equivalent above.

    This will be increasing to £8.20 on Wed 1 Apr - for more see the Prescription and dental charges rise in April MSE news story

    Obviously, if you don't pay for prescriptions, it'll be free so is the cheapest way to get tablets. Also check out a pre-paid prescription certificate if you buy regularly. See the 20+ Medicine Savings guide for more help.

If you spot any cheaper deals, please report them in the Cheap Hayfever Remedies discussion

Quick tips to reduce symptoms & other hayfever remedies

As well as cutting the cost of medication there are a number of other ways to keep your summer sneezes to a minimum.

How to reduce hayfever symptoms

Antihistamines can help reduce the symptoms of hayfever, but there are a few practical measures to try when the pollen count is high (thanks to Asthma UK for some of these).

  • Check the pollen forecast. Be aware of when the pollen count is likely to be high. The Met Office has a searchable pollen forecast online map.

    Every hayfever season (roughly March to September), allergy drug company Zirtek offers a free downloadable pollen calendar to help you prepare.

  • Vacuum and damp dust. Use a damp cloth to dust and remove any lingering pollen spores.

  • Keep windows and doors closed. This helps keep the pollen out.

  • Smear Vaseline inside your nose. This helps stop the pollen from settling on the lining of your nose.

  • Bring washing in early. Avoid drying clothes outside if you can. Air cools and pollen descends in the evening so bring in washing from outside before this to save it getting covered. Give it a good shake before bringing it in.

If you're buying for kids, are pregnant, or simply find that antihistamine tablets don't work well for you, here are the cheapest alternatives. Prices can fluctuate, so always double-check:

Hayfever remedies for under-12s

Kids' RemediesChildren under 12 and pregnant women should take special care when choosing hayfever meds.

Kids' versions of products can cost more than the adult versions. Similarly, branded syrups can share the same active ingredient, only featuring different flavourings, and generic versions can be available.

Look at the ingredients and the dosage guidelines, rather than the spiel and fancy packaging.

  • Piriton Syrup (150ml): (Chlorphenamine Maleate) £3.79 from Boots for its own-brand version, or a generic version for £2.49 (+£1.99 delivery) from Chemist-4-U*.

Eye drops and nasal sprays

Nasal spray While antihistamines should be enough to reduce hayfever symptoms for most, they're unlikely to totally relieve nasal congestion or streaming eyes. So it may be worth investing in a separate nasal spray, and/or eye drops.

Again, there are various types to watch out for and look out for generic equivalents. If you're unsure what to try first, consult your pharmacist.

  • Beclometasone (Beconase). This is £5.00 in store at Tesco (100 sprays). Alternatively, a 200-spray unbranded version is £2.79 (+£1.99 delivery) at Chemist-4-U*.

  • Sodium Cromoglicate Eye Drops (Opticrom). You can find an unbranded version at Chemist-4-U* for £1.99 (+£1.99 delivery).

Light therapy and air purifiers

For some sufferers, a couple of pieces of technology have been claimed to alleviate hayfever symptoms without using any drugs. Anecdotal feedback has generally been positive, though as ever with alternative therapies, usefulness is in the eye (or nose) of the beholder.

  • Air purifier

    Light therapy. This is based on the idea of using red light to desensitise nasal passages in a bid to defend you from allergic reactions and reduce inflammation.

    There's a range of different models available. They can be pretty expensive at full price, retailing for as much as £30 or more, but it's possible to get them for about £20 on Amazon*.

  • Air purifiers. If you struggle to sleep at night because of the pollen swirling around your bedroom, air purifiers may also be helpful.

    Air purifier

    These often mildly noisy devices work to clean the air in any room, either by filtering (HEPA-type) or ionising air molecules.

    These generally cost upwards of £30, but again, it's sometimes possible to get them for about £15 via Amazon*. For more on air purifiers, see Wikipedia's air purifier entry.

For extra feedback on these devices, read MoneySaver Harryharp's useful forum thread.