When it comes to matters of health it’s easy to understand why people would opt to purchase more expensive medicines and supplements rather than buying the cut-price supermarket-own equivalents. Spurred on by the old adage “you get what you pay for”, the possibility of ineffectiveness from a budget medicine can lead consumers to forking out more for remedies.

But with the cost of brand name products retailing at up to ten times the price of own-brand counterparts, we wanted to investigate just how much consumers can save by opting for the cheaper, no-frills alternatives. Often containing the exact same ingredients as more expensive options, these cheaper products do the same job, at a fraction of the price.

We analysed costs from seven of the UK’s major high street retailers – including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Boots – to find the average price of the most popular brand name and own-brand meds to see just how much consumers could pocket.

The highest price increase was found in Alka Seltzer when compared to dispensable aspirin. With the aspirin available for as little as 28p at Tesco and at an average cost of 43p, Alka Seltzer’s average £3.53 cost puts it at a whopping 782% more expensive. 

The second largest price increase was seen in Panadol compared to paracetamol, where a packet of the former could cost you up to 373% more, whilst Nurofen cost 247%  more than an average supermarket Ibuprofen, making it the third most expensive.

In addition to these average mark-up figures there are individual cases where the prices rise even more sharply. At Tesco’s a packet of their own brand Ibuprofen costs 30p whilst Nurofen is £2.00 with the same retailer, which is 567% pricier.

Sainsbury’s Sudafed Blocked Nose (£4.95) costs 725% more than Sainsbury’s own brand flu relief (£0.60). On average Sudafed is 180% more expensive than own brand flu relief.

The medicine with the smallest price difference was Lemsip when compared to flu sachets. However with an average 66% increase consumers could still save themselves a pretty penny by opting for the no-frills offering.

As well as the above our comparisons of brands such as Clarityn, Centrum and Sudafed against less expensive supermarket products can be seen in the table below;

medicine stats table

medicine stats table

We can also help you beat the price on both branded and non branded options — shop the range of offers we have for Boots, our savings at Sainsbury’s & Tesco voucher codes which are regularly added to the site.

*(25mg extra, + caffeine)
Note: where a uniform unit price was not available an equivalent ‘per unit’ price was calculated.

Prices stated are accurate as of August 2015.