If you’re buying brand name over-the-counter meds instead of generic ones, nine times out of 10 you’re wasting money.
BEST BUY | When it comes to fashion and décor, I can be as big a brand snob as anyone, but it makes absolutely no sense to be a label slave where over-the-counter medications are concerned. Why chain yourself to a brand name “OTC” med when the no name equivalent is available at a seriously lower price?
Got nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea? There’s a generic med for that—and for acne, hemorrhoids, nasal congestion, back pain, PMS and just about every other ailment or condition for which OTCs are sold. If you’re worried that the generic will be less effective, you shouldn’t be because it won’t: It’s the law.
Generic VS. Brand
Generic non-prescription medicines are carefully regulated and required to meet the exact same standards as brand name ones. This means that the active ingredients, contraindications, dosage, strength, quality, performance and intended use must be identical.
Where generics and brand name products differ is in what’s called “filler.” All meds have filler, the non-medicinal ingredients that determine the colour, shape, size and appearance of a drug. Filler differs from one product to another. Sometimes people may have a reaction to a filler, but they could just as easily have one to the filler in a brand name product.
A Few Problems With Generics
One thing that keeps the cost of generic meds down is the plain, no-nonsense packaging, which makes them less eye-catching than the big brands—when all the boxes in one drug category look alike at first glance, it’s hard to match them with brand equivalents and spot differences. But hey, if you can’t tell the regular from extra strength, you just need to ask the pharmacist.
There are situations where a generic med is not the way to go but they always involve non-medicinal ingredients. One pharmacist told me he never recommends his pharmacy’s house brand nicotine patch because the adhesive doesn’t stick for long. Another told me she cannot get behind her company’s therapeutic lip balm because the ingredient that helps it stay on the lips is not effective.—C. Rule