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Revealed: IDENTICAL cold & flu medicines sold at three times the price

MoneySavingExpert.com investigation reveals huge savings shoppers can make

By Steve Nowottny

23 December 2016

MONEYSAVINGEXPERT.COM

Cutting your costs, fighting your corner

 

For immediate release 23 December 2016

 

Revealed: IDENTICAL cold & flu medicines sold at three times the price

MoneySavingExpert.com investigation reveals huge savings shoppers can make

 

An investigation by MoneySavingExpert.com has found that some over-the-counter cold and flu medicines are being sold at three times the price of identical tablets, which simply have different packaging.

 

The investigation looked at the price of a series of medications at 11 high street stores* and found that:

 

  • Shoppers can save up to 71% on identical drugs by buying them in a different packet.

 

  • In some cases, 'own-brand' products of leading pharmacies Boots and Lloyds cost MORE than identical branded-medicines bought elsewhere.

 

  • Shoppers can also save up to 68% on drugs with the same 'active ingredient', by switching from a branded medicine to a generic equivalent.

 

The MoneySavingExpert.com research tracked identical products by the ‘PL number’ – a unique licence number given exclusively to a particular drug made by a particular manufacturer (eg, PL 12063/0104 is a cold and flu remedy). The medicine is sometimes put in different packaging, but if the PL numbers match, it's the same drug.

 

Megan French, a consumer writer at MoneySavingExpert.com, who researched the story, says: “Families need to be aware they could be paying triple the price for identical medication, as over the year this could really add up.

 

“It’s easy to think fancy packaging and advertising must mean the medicine will be better, but look a bit further and check what’s actually inside. And as our research shows, simply swapping from branded to ‘own-brand’ medicine from the biggest pharmacies doesn’t guarantee savings – in some cases these can actually be more expensive than brands.”

 

See the video on the report on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Embed the video into your article using this link:

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMoneySavingExpert%2Fvideos%2F1171548889566263%2F&show_text=0&width=560" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

 

For more information on how to cut medicine costs, visit the MoneySavingExpert.com 22 Medicine Savings guide.

 

Notes to editors:

 

* MoneySavingExpert.com looked for the cheapest price it could find for each drug, in store and online where possible, at Asda, Boots, Home Bargains, Lloyds, Poundland, Poundstretcher, Sainsbury's, Savers, Superdrug, Tesco and Wilko.

 

 

Table 1: How the identical medicines compare by price

 

PRODUCT & LICENCE NUMBER

OWN-BRAND PRICES

BRANDED EQUIVALENT

POTENTIAL SAVING AS A PERCENTAGE

 

Boots

Lloyds

Superdrug

Wilko

 

 

Max Strength Sinus Capsules (16) PL 12063/0067

£3.29

n/a

n/a

95p

Sudafed Congestion & Headache Relief £2.99 (1)

71%

Max Strength Cold & Flu Capsules (16) PL 12063/0066

£3.29

£2.55

£3.29

95p

Benylin Cold & Flu Max Strength Capsules £2.40

71%

Max Strength All-In-One Sachets (10) PL 12063/0104

£3.89

£3.89

n/a

£1.85

Beechams Max Strength All-In-One £3

52%

Children's Cough Syrup 
PL 00014/0307

£2.29

n/a

n/a

n/a

Calcough Children's Soothing Syrup £3.59 (2)

36%

Prices checked Dec 2016. MSE research reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and an independent pharmacist. (1) Same PL also available as Sudafed Blocked Nose and Sinus & Sudafed Sinus Max Strength. (2) Same PL also sold as some Benylin products.

 

Table 2: How the branded vs generic medicines compare

 

RANKING

BRANDED PRODUCT

CHEAPEST PRICE

GENERIC EQUIVALENT

CHEAPEST PRICE

SAVING AS A PERCENTAGE

1

Nurofen for Children

£2.99 Savers

Ibuprofen suspension

95p Savers/Wilko

68%

2

Calpol

£2.45 Wilko

Junior Parapaed

95p Wilko

61%

3

Vicks Sinex Micromist 15ml

£2.49 Savers

Blocked Nose Relief 15ml

99p Home Bargains

60%

4

Benylin Mucus Cough Menthol Flavour 150ml

£3.85 Boots

Mucus Cough Syrup 200ml

£1.80 Sainsbury's

53%

5

Lemsip Max sachets (10)

£2.99 Home Bargains

Max Strength Cold & Flu Relief (10)

£1.75 Asda

41%

MoneySavingExpert.com looked at the same 11 stores and compared five cold, flu and fever branded products (at the cheapest price it could find) with their cheapest generic counterparts it could find.

Prices checked Dec 2016 for medicine containing the same active ingredient, which is taken the same way. MSE research reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and an independent pharmacist.

While generic equivalents usually beat branded medicines on price and have the same active pharmaceutical ingredient, it's important to note other ingredients can differ. Make sure you're aware of any possible allergic reactions and ensure the medication you choose is correct for you – if in doubt, check with the pharmacist or your GP.

 

 

-ends-

 

For more comments, please contact:

Katie Watts

Tel: 020 3150 1594

Mob: 07875 415 378
katie.watts@moneysavingexpert.com

 

About MoneySavingExpert.com: MoneySavingExpert.com is dedicated to cutting consumers’ bills and fighting their corner. The free-to-use consumer finance help resource aims to show people how to save money on anything and everything, and campaigns for financial justice. Set up in 2003 for just £100, its free-to-use, ethical stance quickly made it the UK’s biggest independent money website, according to internet ranking site Alexa.com, and the number one ‘Business and Finance – Business Information’ site, according to Hitwise. It has more than 12 million people opted-in to receive the weekly Martin’s Money Tips email, and more than 14 million unique monthly site users who visit more than 24 million times a month. In September 2012, it joined the MoneySupermarket.com Group PLC.

 

 

 

 

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