/ Health, Shopping

Are targeted painkillers a waste of money?

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.

Targeted painkillers

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.

Generic painkillers

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?

Useful links

The health products you don’t need


I have always bought the cheap generics. And I am very pleased the Australian ACCC has acted in this robust way. Confusing consumers is not generally useful to consumers so one wonders why apparently no one in the UK has taken it up. Are other EU countries equally keen for confused customers.? Perhaps a quick ring around to the other EU consumer bodies would be interesting : )

BTW I accept the placebo affect though I know that many here have argued vociferously against it. And trying to get people to accept the anti-placebo effect is an even bigger stretch.

Yet another example of big business ripping us off. Trust non of them

I don’t buy many painkillers but always go for generic ibuprofen. I always check for a PL (product licence) number and buy a brand that I have heard of. I don’t know if any of the painkillers on sale are counterfeit, but having learned that there are companies that substitute oregano for cheaper herbs, I begin to wonder what I am buying.

Until Which? has a regular TV programme I don’t think there is much chance of putting Nurofen out of business.

” painkillers on sale are counterfeit, but having learned that there are companies that substitute oregano for cheaper herbs, I begin to wonder what I am buying.”

I am not sure of the business nous of those criminals substituting oregano for cheaper herbs – perhaps its a Robin Hood thing. : )

” Until Which? has a regular TV programme I don’t think there is much chance of putting Nurofen out of business.” wavechange

Yikes don’t go putting ideas into their heads. I was watching Test.de appearing on a Stern/RLT programme where they were discussing the like of the Thermomix and the all-dancing Kenwood at around 1200Euro plus inferior machines. They were showing some of the tests and the final marks. If I understood German it would be even more useful.

Which? owns no testing facilities so it rather weakens the connection. I think there is also the problem that Which? is becoming more and more diffused and with commercial operations competing against advertisers commercial mainstream would be unlikely. For the same reasons the BBC is out. Launching an own Channel on Freeview or something simply not enough content – well apart from running the 1300? You Tube clips.

What I have in mind is something aimed at a more serious audience, like BBC2 documentaries, rather than Watchdog which is intended to appeal to the masses. You make a good point about the commercial involvement of Which? and BBC TV, but Which? campaigns do get publicised BBC TV.

I’d not like to see Which? getting into tv. The pressure of a good story would be too great for what should be an independent, balanced objective and fair-minded organisation. Coming up with regular “good” stories that would keep an audience would be beyond them without a large extra staff Goodness knows what it would all cost.

I’d like Which? to do its existing job better. It does not campaign in a neutral way in many cases, and it should. Maybe that is because it does not research in sufficient depth, or maybe it thinks it has to bias the campaign to gain public support.

I’d like to see in-depth testing, even if that means reducing the number of products. I’d like to see real help for consumers pursuing their rights. I’d like to see lobbying for more durable products, less throw-away stuff, longer guarantees, sensible paid-for warranties. This is where Which? used to be – or so it seemed. But what would tv do? By all means contribute to Watchdog when it has something worthwhile to say, but stay away from the tabloid sensationalist headline approach.

dieseltaylor says:
Which? owns no testing facilities …
You can’t be serious.

Then what are all those Execs getting HUGE pay packets for ”doing” with MY Dosh?.
Does anyone remember what the difference was between being a :
Member of the AA
and a
Member of the RAC
? ?
Please, mr managing editor, this IS relevant to this discussion, just stay that e-shredding machine.

If the placebo effect is as strong as the intro suggests, it might not matter if you are buying chalk tablets 🙂 We pay for all the advertising that surrounds branded goods. When did you last see ibuprofen advertised? (just a guess!). Why should I fund the huge salaries of advertising agencies’ owners and employees?

There was a program on TV about a year ago that said more or less the same thing.

The reason I buy Nurofen over cheaper ones is the coating. Nurofen has a nice shiny coating so the tablets slide down your throat and dissolve in your stomach. Cheaper tablets generally don’t have a nice shiny coating, presumably it is how they cut costs. They seem to get stuck in my throat where they dissolve and I get a nasty taste in my mouth to go along with any pain.

Once in Boots, they had run out of tubs of Nurofen so sold me their own brand as they said they were exactly the same. They might have the same effect but they did not have a shiny coating.

We find rubbing in Ibuprofen Gel works much better than tablets on joint and muscular pain.

”They seem to get stuck in my throat where they dissolve and I get a nasty taste in my mouth to go along with any pain.”
Drink MUCH more fluid (e g water) and according to the NHS on-line advice you’ll get rid of that problem completely – and save £££

There are generic ibuprofen tablets that have a shiny coating, but as Josef says that answer is to drink plenty of water with them.

Water won’t wash them down once they are stuck, just dilute the taste.

Eating a piece of bread or other food will help pills go down.

Yep, food is the only thing that gets stuck tablets down my throat !!!

coat it in butter – works for getting tablets down the cat’s throat.

You should ideally take Ibuprofen with a glass of milk or with a meal, ie not on an empty stomach

The essence of drinking LOTS of fluids with tablets / caps / etc, is to by-pass the normal functioning of the part of the alimentary canal leading from the mouth to the stomach.
A hearty flushing with juice or water will make sure that these powerful and in some cases harmful to your gullet / oesophagus, get straight to your stomach.
The lining of your ‘tum’ and the content of the tabs are, in the main, compatible.
It’s unlikely that the polished coating on your tabs enable them to slip down, it probably stops them dissolving in your oesophagus tho’.
The advice from ALL Pharmacists, and BIG Pharma, is Drink lots of fluids with your tabs.

”Are targeted painkillers a waste of money?”
Joanna Pearl, Principal Health Researcher
I will argue that this is a poorly constructed ‘teaser’ article, written by someone who doesn’t declare their FORMAL qualifications to post ‘such opinions’ .

Let’s consider a FEW of the reasons I make such a claim, and conclude that this article should be:
Withdrawn, re-written, and re-submitted.

1.0….. With the responsibilities claimed by the author :
Principal Health Researcher
” … working on social care, disability and health projects and investigations from bra-fitting services to mystery-shopping the advice given by pharmacies.”
One would have expected some at least glancing reference to ‘formal’ qualifications to have been listed in their Biog

2.0….. Title :….. ”Are targeted painkillers a waste of money?”
This presupposes both that there are such things available on the shelf of a supermarket, AND
that the claims of some manufacturers have any validity whatsoever.
Perhaps at the very least:
””Are so called ‘targeted’ painkillers a waste of money?” ?

3.0….. There isn’t any differentiation made between :
Ibuprofen, and for example

Ibuprofen is after all, essentially an Anti-inflammatory, and aids pain relief by a different mechanizm from paracetamol.

4.0….. ”Painkillers” ?
Pharmacist that I know, and I know quite a few, would use the term ‘Pain relief’.
Neither Pharmacists, nor BIG Pharma, claim that products available on supermarket shelves are Painkillers.
Once one adopts the MC ** language of the marketeers one is on a loosing wicket. [Vide Orwell’s Newspeak.]

5.0….. Where, from Which?’s Principal Health Researcher, is there ANY hint of a caution concerning the use of pain relief tabs, or a link to standard cautionary advice.

I M O this ‘teaser’ article is NOT a Which? Best Buy
I vote it a Which? ”Read with Great Caution.”
Better still:
”Please re-write, and re-submit.”
MC ** = Not PC, but Market Correct.

Have a look at the related article on page 26 of the January magazine, Josef. It briefly explains the types of painkiller available over-the-counter and recommends that we ask the advice of the pharmacist.

I’ve been aware of this issue for years as I’m sure many of the previous posters have been. I’m only surprised that its the Australians that have actually bothered to do something about it, good for them. Maybe our under resourced Trading Standards should be asked to pass judgement.


Hello everyone, an update for you:

“The ASA is now investigating 12 complaints about a television advert for Nurofen Express, examining whether the advert was misleading because it implies that the product directly targets muscles in the head.

“It is also looking into whether viewers were misled by the claim that the Nurofen Express “gives you faster headache relief than standard paracetamol or ibuprofen”.

“An ASA spokesman said: ‘We received the complaints in February and launched an investigation in March. This is a complex case and our investigation is ongoing. The advertiser is providing evidence to substantiate its claims, we’re carefully assessing that and we’ll publish our findings in due course.’


And if you’re a Which? member you can read our full investigation into ‘targeted’ painkillers in the January 2016 issue of Which? magazine.

Patrick Steen says:
Hello everyone, an update for you:
Given my posting, around 30 minutes before yours, concerning the use of the word painkillers”
4.0….. ”Painkillers” ?
Pharmacist that I know, and I know quite a few, would use the term ‘Pain relief’.
Neither Pharmacists, nor BIG Pharma, claim that products available on supermarket shelves are Painkillers.
Why are you still using the un-modified, un-qualified term Pain – KILLERS.
My research suggests that not only are there not any such things on the market, but if there were, they would NEVER be released for general use.
Just consider this quotation:
”Without the gift of pain, everyday activities are fraught with danger. Unnoticed burns and ulcers can lead to permanent disability. Due to the inability to detect grit in the eye, blindness is a common consequence of leprosy.” The Leprosy Socy.

josef, a good point. An industry I was in had to make products that worked even when attacked by vandals. Such products were never marketed as “vandal proof”, only as “vandal resistant” simply because however clever we were at, say, improving the strength, the vandal would always be one step ahead. You can make a speed camera as strong as you like on a sturdy pole, but a spray of black aerosol paint can make it useless.

Noticeable that that which was once called the :
Police Crime PREVENTION service
some years ago [In the LAST century indeed] re-badged themselves as the:
Police Crime REDUCTION service.

Come on, Which?
”The times they are A-Chang – Um – ed” Tra La !


I would like to see advertising checked for false claims before it is used. At present, unscrupulous companies can make money from dodgy advertising before being instructed to withdraw it.

wavechange says:
I would like to see advertising checked for false claims before it is used. …

As my maternal Grandmother used to say:
‘coz that’s my name, NOT ‘Josef’
”Lies are halfway round the world before the TRUTH has got its boots on.”

The only way to stop Lies is to lock them in a room, and only let the Truth parts out – as you suggest.

I doubt the resources exist to monitor and validate or otherwise every single advert that appears in the UK. Nice thought but if it is not feasible then it would not help. We could extend that concept to checking everything before it is made public, from “Which?” reports to politicians’ statements.

Unfortunately maybe one answer – if only we had the courage to enforce it – would be to have punitive sanctions in place for anyone who fraudulently places misleading advertising, or makes significant unsubstantiated claims (not a lot of difference) in the public domain. The aim would be to deter those from so doing, rather than to extract money. The onus here would be on the advertiser to show their claims were genuine.

OK, it would not stop some misleading adverts from being produced but if the financial sanctions were shown to be imposed, and possibly advertising banned for a period, it may no longer be a worthwhile practice.

If the companies have to pay to have their new adverts scrutinised then we would have less marketing and that could actually make products cheaper, since the consumer foots the bill for advertising.

It’s bad enough having dodgy advertising without finding reasons not to address the problem. 🙁

In my view it is not about the cost, it is the sheer impracticality. Imagine the huge numbers of people needed to scrutinise, investigate and check claims. An enormous bureaucracy of people who who would be much better off with more productive jobs.

Guilty until proven innocent is not something I would like to see in any walk of life.

The sooner we start the better then. We would not be having this discussion if companies behaved responsibly.

We should not tar all companies with the same brush. Many companies, like many other institutions, do behave responsibly. Some don’t.

We could make a start by focusing on the companies that have been the subject of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency. We live in a sad society when even children learn not to trust advertising.

DebbieG says:
15 December 2015

Adverts are a swizz, and while I think we all accept a certain degree of artistic licence in general, for medical products there really should be greater scrutiny and proper penalties for misleading vulnerable or desperate people. The Nurofen case might not seem too serious, but some of the snake-oil that’s out there…. I always buy the supermarket own-brand’s ibuprofen and never have a problem. Otrivine is as bad as Nurofen – I realised recently that their different products for congestion, sinusitis, allergy relief and just normal are all exactly the same chemical at the same strength. Some of them have different nozzles, but that’s it. So, I just stick with the cheapest. Same with hayfever tablets. Unless you react to a certain coating or ingredient, you could save a lot of money by using own-brands. I think I experience the anti-placebo effect – the satisfaction of saving money while getting the same pharmaceutical effect as the more expensive brands!

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I been taking many tablets but the painkillers prescribed to me are under various banners but are script only.
Co-Codamol, Kapak is a popular option and dear knows how many other brands and in store own brands I’ve seen but as long as it says 30/500 they’ll work. mostly.
On the script front there doesnt seem to be any problem but then we are getting what is prescribed to us and the seller is not trying to get us to buy their brand over others.
I think that such practices should be forcibly stopped as its no different to any other form of misleading folk
Something I’m not to sure about though is, why do people not read the ingredients surely that would have let the cat out of the bag years ago.
My wife reads nothing and I cannot eat dairy so I see the results all to often. Just because one supermarket particular food so does not contain dairy does not mean they all do not contain dairy. Its wonderful how any ways there are to get to the same goal. I suppose dairy produce is now very cheap so they try to get it into everything

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Humans’ ability to tolerate cows’ milk is only about 7 000 years old – and was one of THE significant developments in the rise of humans in the predominant role they now play on the planet.
”In order to digest milk, adult humans need to have a gene which produces an enzyme called lactase to break down lactose, one of the main sugars it contains.” BBC
But a surprizing 5% don’t have that gene.

Have you tried or had much luck getting milk-free medication?

I wrote to several pharmaceutical companies a few years back to see if there were milk/lactose-free versions of quite a few medications but didn’t have much luck as most of them use milk as the bulking agent.

Doctors were very reluctant to accept people could be allergic to milk until not that long ago but are still not good at prescribing milk-free drugs. Our local chemist is the most helpful in trying to find suitable brands.

Now if Which? were to lobby for milk-free drugs, there would be an awful lot of very grateful people out there.

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It’s important to distinguish between lactose intolerance and the much more serious condition of allergy to dairy products. The inability to digest milk sugar (lactose) is caused by having too little lactase (beta-galactosidase) and the symptoms are usually unpleasant rather than dangerous. Most adults with lactose deficiency get on fine with ‘lactose-free’ milk, which is ordinary milk treated with lactase to remove covert most (but not all) of the lactose into sugars (glucose and galactose) that those with lactose deficiency can cope with.

Lactose is commonly used as a filler in drugs, where the active component is very small – milligrams or micrograms. The amounts of lactose involved are not necessarily a problem for those who are lactose-intolerant. It would be better, in my view, if the pill producers chose a different filler.

I was replying to Duncan’s reference to being allergic as one tablet might not have that much effect depending on the person but several tablets all containing milk can give the patient mild anaphalaxia or worse.

When a person has to take several tablets, it is no fun having a permanent irritated throat on top of other problems when this could be avoided buy using a different bulking agent.

Sorry Alfa – I had not seen your comment when I posted mine.

In my case Dairy sets off IBS symptoms and pronto usually in around 15mins but the cramps are very painful and the end results even more so. Hence we have a camper for hol’s.
I had that same type of reaction to aspirin when I was about 15.
Three times that summer before anyone caught on what was causing the severe outbreaks. Just as well I was young I think.
In my case the symptom of swelling starts in the lower lip and spreads quickly. Eyes nearly close if one doesnt close all together.
Body in a rash that is worse than adult chicken pox to bear. Swole up everywhere
Itch everywhere, the very soles of my feet and even the unmentionable places
Terrible effect it had on my skin
I avoid all salicylate like the plague, makes me cringe the thought of it.
And like someone here I think is was wave wrote about the terribly tiny writing on remedies it would be very easy to make a mistake.
Have a search for a video, udderly amazing. Your wife will be interested in it.

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Very observant. I never watched but I do people watch on other fronts.
Personally I am swarthy and my Mum and maternal Grandma had eyes black as coal and my daughter the same. Near everyone else here including me has versions of hazel eyes. Blood group suggests an Asian descent although how that arrives I do not know.
Terrible stomachs in the family if I was to name the thing that mist occurs but it may be brought on by anxiety in later life I’m noticing only people wont admit to that one. Mental illness/problems are still bit taboo it seems. But I have eye’s. I can see.
I would say Celtic in origin now I know that the north of Spain and Portugal has those roots along with quite a area here.
I have a Spanish connection many generations back that I know about anyhow but up until maybe 10 or 15 years ago i had not realised the extent of the Celts
My mothers family goes back via Scotland to Brittany as best I can research.
I’ll feel at home in any Celtic area even I dont know the language . Its not the area or the weather that makes me feel at ease its the people and the music and the in built “whatever it is”.
Better stop this rambling before we get accused again of something we didnt intend

DeeKay says:
Co-Codamol, Kapak is a popular option and dear knows how many other brands and in store own brands I’ve seen but as long as it says 30/500 they’ll work. mostly.
Co-Codamol = Codeine Phosphate Hemihydrate – Paracetamol
Once upon a time one could buy ‘Codeine’ tabs off the shelf – not anymore – 3-methylmorphine.
About the strongest off the shelf Co-Cod is 8/500 = not much use.
30/500 = a wonder pain reliever is (T M K) only on prescription, e g Solpadol (R)

The main articles talk about Ibuprofen (including the generic versions) being 342 mg but not all of them are. Superdrug and Aldi sell 200 mg pills. Read the labels!!!

banjo says:
The main articles talk…
A case for Unit pricing

Shops are restricted to selling 200 mg ibuprofen in packs of 16 tablets. A pharmacist can sell 400 mg tablets without prescription. The British National Formulary lists 600 and 800 mg tablets as prescription-only drugs.

342 mg ibuprofen lysine corresponds to 200 mg ibuprofen.

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Acetaminophen is a nasty constituent and what a lot don’t realise is that it can take up to six weeks to die from Paracetamol overdosing. And, as my learned friend says, it doesn’t actually take a lot of overdose to achieve that. The worst aspect of a paracetamol overdose is that you remain fully conscious throughout.

All drugs have side effects, of course, and Aspirin (Salicylic acid) has its own, but I do feel that insufficient people are educated enough about the truly dire side-effects of paracetamol over-consumption.

Duncan – Sorry but I don’t think Which? deserves the criticism. Joanna’s Conversation focuses on two main issues:

1. It’s not possible for an oral drug to target a particular site.
2. Generic drugs can cost a fraction of what the heavily advertised products do, the subject of earlier Convos.

There is a link to an article about unnecessary medicines and a brief mention of the placebo effect.

If you want to get a message across, it’s important to be brief and to the point.

Ibuprofen is used to treat pain, so I have no problem with the popular term ‘painkiller’ when writing for the general public. In my view it’s more important for the public to understand when to choose paracetamol or ibuprofen than knowing that the latter is best described as an anti-inflammatory drug. That’s not relevant to the introduction, but perhaps something that could be discussed in the comments.

The article is not about paracetamol, so why complicate it with a warning of the dangers of paracetamol. BTW, I’m surprised that paracetamol can be bought in a supermarket because of the danger you mention.

Whenever I get something wrong with me that doesn’t require a GP’s attention I speak to a pharmacist and I think people should be encouraged to do that more often rather than picking their way through the over-the-counter medicines that might or might not be suitable for their problem and could conflict with other medication [how many people read the multi-folded tiny-printed information sheets included in the box?]. Pharmacists are just as highly-trained as doctors and, importantly, know the limitations of treatments so can advise people to see their GP if complications might present or if something more specialised would be better for them. They will also be able to supply the appropriate generic drug and recommend the appropriate dosage.

As regards Duncan’s point about paracetamol poisoning: this has been curbed substantially by the new restrictions on unit sales and packaging in blister packs [instead loose in jars by the handful], nevertheless in the UK it remains the most common agent of intentional self-harm with over a hundred deaths a year due to this cause. Given the enormous quantities of paracetamol sold every year the death rate is exceptionally low, presumably because most people are not intent on killing themselves, act responsibly, follow the recommended dosage, and stop taking the tablets as soon as their pain is relieved or they realise it isn’t the right remedy for their condition.

It is terribly sad that some people wish to end it all with a drug overdose, and perhaps do not understand the pain they will endure, especially as they might have passed the point of being mentally receptive to any intervention. And since it is against the law to recommend alternative means of committing suicide this statistic will probably remain.

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Hi Duncan – I certainly do appreciate the problem of paracetamol poisoning, though I have no first hand experience. As John has said, measures have been taken to reduce the risk. I would prefer to see paracetamol and other pain relief drugs sold by a pharmacist who can check its suitability for the condition, compatibility with other medication, and recommend that the person should see their GP if they are concerned about long term use or possible misuse. On the other hand, paracetamol – if used sensibly – is a useful drug and avoids the problem of gastric irritation. It is certainly within the remit of Which? to make an input on marketing of drugs but not, I believe, matters of whether drugs are safe for sale and use. I would rather debate what we are invited to discuss and hope that it encourages more people to get involved in the debate. We can make input to the NHS and the public can now report problems via the ‘yellow card’ system.

This afternoon, I was reading a Guardian report “Banned and dangerous weapons found for sale on Amazon.co.uk”. Though I am tempted to post this on the current discussion about Amazon’s online food sales to alert people to what their favourite retailer gets up to, that would be off-topic and not very helpful.

My main concern about generic drugs is that the accompanying leaflet is sometimes in very small print, so important information may not be heeded. Perhaps it would be useful to standardise patient leaflets for ibuprofen and other drugs. It would help eliminate marketing nonsense such as reference to targeted painkillers.

I thought this letter by Sean Carey in the Independent was nice:

“Richard Headland, editor of Which?, recommends that consumers should buy generic versions of common painkillers rather than high-price branded products whenever possible (“Exposed: the painkiller labelling scam”, 15 December).

“Good advice. However, a few years ago I was teaching consumer behaviour to second-year students in the business school at the University of Roehampton, and I was curious to explore their preferences for everyday painkilling products.

“The question I posed to the students was this: for an identical price you can buy either Nurofen or a generic product from a leading, trusted supermarket which is chemically identical and will have identical effects in the body.

“All of them stated that they would purchase the Nurofen, which they considered somehow superior to the generic version.

“The experience taught me, and hopefully some of them, about brand magic, the non-rational element that informs our consumer purchases, whether of painkillers, smartphones or foreign holidays.”

An “identical price” is significant. However, brand is genuinely important – we do build up trust with experience from some providers. See how many “generic” products bought on the internet are either poor quality or dangerous.

If you were going to sell counterfeit products, would you copy the expensive brand or the cheap generic product? Counterfeit Rolex watches seem to be more common than counterfeit cheap watches.

Which? has mentioned counterfeit goods, so I wonder if counterfeit ibuprofen and similar drugs is a problem in this country. From a quick web search, it seems that counterfeit ibuprofen is a problem elsewhere.

“If you were going to sell counterfeit products”. I wasn’t thinking of counterfeits. But take batteries, say phone batteries for example. LED light bulbs. And so on.

It would be interesting to know whether counterfeit painkillers are on sale in the UK, and if so, whether the brand or generic products are affected.

I presume that none of the high price branded drugs is claimed to be superior to generic products. I wonder why.

Anything with the word Anadin on the packet is a rip off. I buy cheapest Paracetamol and Ibuprofen in Asda for just over a penny a tablet. They say the placebo affect of paying more for a brand name and flashy packet makes you fell better. In my case the knowledge that I haven’t been conned makes me feel much better. Anadin Extra contains caffeine so wash down your para and ibu pills with a cup of coffee.

NSAID’s (non steroid anti inflammatory drugs) are extremely toxic when taken in excess but a blessing when taken according to the instructions in the leaflets as Wavechange says. They are also beneficial when taken in the short term for acute ailments. You should always check with your pharmacist and your GP when prescribing alternative medication if you are already taking something else.

Having worked in psychiatric hospitals where patients are on quite a lot of medication such as mood stabilisers and anti psychotics, patients who suffer from headaches, back problems, colds or flu symptoms are always given paracetamol as prescribed.

For long term chronic conditions such as arthritis there is continuing research into ways of controlling pain without pills and the following website is quite comprehensive and informative.

arthritis.org. – Fight Arthritis Pain Without Pills. – Dorothy Foltz-Gray

For example, the use of topical medication such as gels and creams which tackles the pain where it hurts, bypassing the stomach causing side effects which have already been discussed above. Also the very controversial placebo effect. For example why does the brain still feel pain after amputation?

Pain, although unpleasant, reminds me that I am still alive (although no longer kicking!) and I have become more aware of it as I age (who was it that said old age is not for wimps?), but the more I focus on its presence the more it will hurt.

Which? I think have a role to play to prevent pharmaceuticals dressing up their packs of pills in elaborate boxes and deceiving consumers into believing they are getting something better than their standard generic medication – and what part does the regulator NlCE play in this scandal? Surely they should liaise with the ASA and instruct them to clamp down on this practice. Consumers need to be aware of what they are taking, after all, what price does one put on ones health? Life can be very tedious and depressing without it.

I was speaking to a neighbour who buys a pain relief product containing caffeine, saying it works better. In jest, I said that that I’m OK because I drink a lot of coffee anyway. ☕️☕️☕️☕️

I must show my neighbour the article in the January magazine, which suggests that drinking caffeine might help make painkillers more effective. 🙂

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You can check on the absorbent affect of caffeine in pills on the following:

howitworksdaily.com. – Why Does Coffee Give Some People A Headache?

Don’t forget there’s also caffeine in tea and fizzy drinks as well as coffee.

I can no longer take caffeine any more due to too many side effects, including headache, tremors and sleepless nights. Guess I don’t need the stimulus! so have to stick to decaffeinated tea and coffee and all pills containing it 🙁

Thanks Beryl. It’s interesting to read that caffeine can both cause and cure headaches. I have drunk a lot of coffee since my student days and I don’t suffer any ill effects. I don’t think I’m alone but I do know others that are strongly affected by caffeine.