Have you ever bought targeted painkillers for migraine, period or muscle pain? If you have, you might have bought the same product three times over…
The Australian Federal Court has ordered the manufacturers of best-selling painkiller Nurofen to remove its targeted range of painkillers from Australian shops.
The fast-acting Nurofen painkillers (ibuprofen lysine) for ailments such as period pain, migraine and tension headache contained exactly the same product, but were packaged differently.
We don’t have those exact products in the UK, but our own investigations have found similar goings on. You might think that Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache caplets would target your migraine or tension headaches respectively, but you’d be wrong. Ibuprofen can’t target pain in specific body parts.
Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache are exactly the same as each other. They’re also identical to Nurofen Express caplets (available until recently), which can be as much as 2p cheaper per caplet.
Nurofen defends the sale of targeted painkillers, saying that they can help consumers choose the right one.
Shopping around can also pay dividends, as well as careful scrutiny of the packaging. Most leading pharmacies and supermarkets also sell generic versions of fast-acting ibuprofen, at as little as a third of the cost per tablet of Nurofen. They’re not identical to the Nurofen tablets, but they do contain the same active ingredients (342mg ibuprofen lysine).
We found 14 products that are all identical to each other, ranging from 8p a tablet at Wilko to 20p per tablet at Boots and Superdrug. They are variously sold as ‘migraine relief’, ‘period pain relief’, ‘express pain relief’ and ‘rapid pain relief, but are actually made at the same production site (labs) to exactly the same formulation.
If you examine the fine print, you’ll find all these products carry the same marketing product licence number. This means that they’re the same, but the licence allows them to be sold under different names.
So you can ignore targeted marketing if you’re clear you’re taking the right ingredient and dose. For example, a man taking Feminax Express – marketed for period pain – will simply be getting 342mg of ibuprofen lysine!
I’ll leave you with one interesting nugget though – there’s a big placebo effect when it comes to medicines. The higher the cost of the painkiller you take and the nicer the packaging, the better the product works on people who take it, even when we know we’re taking a placebo.
Do you agree that we don’t need to buy targeted painkillers? Do you always buy generic and cheap painkillers?