Most of us probably know that big-brand medicines often contain the same active ingredients as cheaper brands. But what if big-brand medicines were completely identical to the supermarket versions?
The pharmaceutical company Wrafton registered a decongestant at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency under a variety of names. This included Sudafed Blocked Nose & Sinus Capsules, Asda Max Strength Sinus Relief Capsules and Boots Max Strength Sinus Relief Capsules.
The only difference is the packaging – and the fact that Sudafed is more expensive. When we checked, Asda was selling a pack of the Sudafed capsules for £3 and its own-brand capsules for £1.50.
Other Sudafed products made by Wrafton – Sudafed Blocked Nose & Headache and Sudafed Day & Night capsules – were also sold as own-brand Sinus Dual Relief and Max Strength Cold & Flu Day & Night Capsules, respectively, in stores such as Asda, Boots, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco and Wilko.
Paying for a name and a box
Given the choice of two medicines with the same active ingredients, I’ll always go for the cheaper product – I’ve never thought the brand name made a difference.
But at least if the two products were made by different companies, or using slightly different methods, you could try and make a case that the quality of the more expensive branded product is higher.
In this case, literally the only difference is the box that the products come in. I doubt anyone thinks it’s worth paying more for a nicer box.
A Sudafed spokesperson told us that, unlike generic manufacturers, brands invest in areas such as research into new medicines, wider distribution and promotion.
I suppose that explains the price difference – but I’m still going to save money and buy the own-brands whenever I can find them. And I’d suggest you do the same.
Are you loyal to any particular brand of medicine, or do you always look for the cheaper alternative? Do you know of any other branded medicines which are completely identical to own-label versions?
What type of painkillers do you buy?
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