Colds, flu, stomach upset, and cuts and bruises are all part of everyday life, but a quick trip to the local pharmacy can help relieve much of the pain and discomfort caused by these ailments -- and treating them needn't cost an arm and a leg. While many consumers prefer brand-name medications, the truth is that store-brand versions contain the same active ingredients, are just as effective, and can save lots of money. Cheapism.com compared prices to see how much consumers can possibly save by buying equivalent store brands instead of brand-name medications. In every case, the store brand was cheaper than its brand-name counterpart, by 20 percent to 79 percent depending on the drug.
Store Brands of These 10 Common Medicines Save Consumers Up to 79 Percent
A stuffed-up nose and sinus headache calls for a decongestant. The main ingredient in many over-the-counter decongestants is phenylephrine, which helps shrink blood vessels in the nose. Consumers will find it in popular brands such as Sudafed PE. At Walgreens, Sudafed PE Pressure + Pain for Adults costs $8.99 for a package of 24 maximum-strength caplets. By contrast, the comparable Walgreens store-brand product, Wal-Phed PE Sinus Headache, costs $4.39 -- half the price -- for the same number of maximum-strength pills on Drugstore.com (a subsidiary of Walgreen Co.). Savings: $4.60.
The most common active ingredient in cough suppressants is dextromethorphan polistirex, which is found in Robitussin, the world's No. 3 branded cough remedy. At Target, a 3-ounce bottle of Robitussin Extended-Release 12-Hour Cough Relief costs $9.99. But Target's own brand of orange cough syrup, Up Up Cough Suppressant DM, costs just $6.39, a difference of 36 percent. Savings: $3.60.
Those with a pesky, productive cough often seek out expectorants, which help to thin drainage so it can be coughed up -- and out. The active ingredient in these medications, guaifenesin, can be found in brand names such as Mucinex. At CVS, a package of 20 pills of Mucinex with 600 milligrams of guaifenesin costs $13.79. The drug chain's equivalent product costs just $10.99 for the same dosage and quantity, making it 20 percent cheaper. Savings: $2.80.
For relief from severe headaches, many consumers rely on Excedrin, which is a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Walgreens' price for a package of 100 caplets (containing 250 milligrams each of aspirin and acetaminophen, as well as 65 milligrams of caffeine) is $11.49, while Walgreens' store-brand version, with the same active ingredients, costs $8.49, a savings of 26 percent. Savings: $3.
Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in most chewable antacids, including Tums, a popular choice for treating indigestion. At Target, 160 ultra-strength Tums tablets in assorted berry flavors cost $7.39, but consumers can save 23 percent buy opting instead for Target's similar product sold under the Up Up brand, which costs just $5.69. Savings: $1.70.
Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is often taken to relieve pain and inflammation. Motrin is a popular brand, and Walgreens offers 100 tablets of 200 milligrams each for $9.79. To save money, look for the chain's store brand, which offers the same dosage and number of pills for $6.99, a 29 percent discount. Savings: $2.80.
Sore-throat pain can leave many patients seeking a quicker remedy than typical pain relief tablets can provide. That's where a throat spray comes in handy, offering temporary numbness to ease the symptoms. The active ingredient, known as phenol, is featured in brand names such as Chloraseptic. A 6-ounce bottle of cherry-flavored throat spray costs $7.29 at CVS. The retailer's store brand of the same product costs just $5.79 -- cheaper by 21 percent. Savings: $1.50.
Bismuth subsalicylate treats an array of tummy troubles, including nausea and diarrhea, but it's more popularly known by one of its brand names -- Pepto-Bismol. At Walmart, consumers can get a 16-ounce bottle of the pink stuff for $5.38. Opting for Walmart's Equate store brand, which includes the same 262-milligram dose of bismuth subsalicylate, costs only $2.86 and saves 47 percent. Savings: $2.52.
Miralax is a popular remedy for relief from constipation. A 17.9-ounce bottle containing 30 doses costs $16.88 at Walmart. But Walmart's Equate ClearLax, which has the same dosage of polyethylene glycol as its active ingredient, costs just $12.92, a difference of more than 23 percent. Savings: $3.96.
When wounds happen, many people reach for Neosporin, which is a combination of three different medications -- bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. A 1-ounce tube of Neosporin's original ointment costs a whopping $9.49 at CVS. But CVS' comparable original-strength antibiotic ointment costs just $7.99, for a savings of $1.50, or about 16 percent. Want an even better deal? Mosey over to Walmart, pick up a twin pack of 1-ounce tubes with the same active ingredient, and pay only $3.98. That brings the cost for one tube down to $1.99, or 79 percent less than the brand-name ointment. Savings: up to $7.50.