The great medicine rip-off

A huge industry exists to sell us pills and powders for ailments we can often treat ourselves.

Walk in to any pharmacy and you'll find a dazzling array of tablets, capsules, salves and linctuses available to buy "over the counter" (OTC). These are medicines that can only be sold by a pharmacist, but do not require a prescription.

The bestsellers are usually found directly behind the chemist's counter, at eye level, just like the cigarettes in a newsagent. While some of them work, others are overpriced, ineffectual, or sometimes even harmful. With a little simple advice, you can treat yourself very effectively without them – and save yourself some money.

This is a huge, lucrative market: 80 per cent of people with a headache will purchase painkillers over the counter. There are three mild but effective analgesics – aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen – that have long outgrown their product licenses and so can be manufactured, and sold, very cheaply. This means that drug companies have to come up with ingenious ways of packaging the same medication.

For example, the manufacturers of Nurofen have come up with no fewer than 20 different products to get the same active ingredient, ibuprofen, into your body. Two of these preparations have an added ingredient, but the other 18 are simply ibuprofen, in various guises and coatings – some designed to act quickly, others to last a long time. You can buy a pack of 16 Nurofen caplets, each containing 200mg of ibuprofen, for £1.79 – or a pack of 16 generic ibuprofen tablets, exactly the same strength, for 37p. ( Article continues )

Source - Independent

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