There’s a big price difference between branded and own-label medicines like paracetamol, but some smaller stores only stock expensive tablets. Does searching for good value medicine give you a headache?
When I set out to buy some paracetamol from a Tesco Express near Which? HQ, it didn’t help my headache when I found out that I had to pay £1.58 for a pack of Panadol, rather than the 19p I’d expected to pay for own-brand Tesco paracetamol. Both of these products contain identical active ingredients – 500mg of paracetamol per tablet.
Yet the Tesco Express near my home stocks own-brand paracetamol, so why doesn’t one in central London? I just can’t understand why Tesco is forcing me to pay a premium.
Hunting for headache tablets
So I asked our research team to investigate further, and find out whether Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local were giving shoppers the chance to buy cheaper medicines. We visited five of each type of store to see what was available and found while expensive brands were on the shelves, few cheap own-brand alternatives were in stock.
For example, we found Anadin Extra at the five Sainsbury’s Locals we visited, priced at £1.99 a pack, and at four Tesco Express stores, priced at £1.89, but none stocked the supermarkets’ 45p own-brand versions. All three versions contain identical ingredients.
When we asked the supermarkets why, Tesco told us it couldn’t stock a full range of products due to the size of its Express stores. Whereas Sainsbury’s refuted our research and said 25% of medicines sold in Local stores were own-brand.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my money by paying over the odds for medicine. I understand that space is at a premium in smaller stores, but why not stock the cheaper own-brand instead of making shoppers pay more? I’d be much more likely to become a regular customer if a supermarket was actively trying to help me cut back on unnecessary costs.
Do you know why smaller supermarkets only stock more expensive medicine? Do you think cheaper alternatives should be available?