CONSUMERS pay up to eight times as much for brand-name drugs that are identical to own-brand equivalents.
Supermarket or drugstore brand ibuprofen tablets can cost around 1.5 pence per pill.
But that of the leading brand Nurofen costs more than 12 pence.
Earlier in the week, Nurofen was raped by ad watchers for falsely claiming that a drug could specifically target joint and back pain.
Now a report finds that – on average for 15 common drugs – Britons have to pay three times more for brand name drugs than generic equivalents which do the exact same thing.
For some drugs, the profit margin was much higher.
But for Nurofen, the cost was eight times higher. A pack of 16 Nurofens at Asda cost £ 1.98, but the store’s own label was 25 pence, making the branded version eight times the price.
The Money Saving Expert study found that Clarityn and Anadin Paracetamol were also bad offenders – both being seven times more expensive than the own brand.
But the report also warned, in its second conclusion, not to assume that every own-brand version is the best value – as their costs varied greatly from store to store.
Some “own-brand” generics sold by the large Boots and Lloyds drugstore chains were more than three times the price of the lower-priced equivalent generic.
For example, for hay fever tablets using cetirizine, Boots and Lloyds both charged around £ 8 for 30.
But Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were all well under £ 3.
The report’s third finding was that brands have multiple versions of a drug claiming to do different things – even though they have the same active ingredient.
For example, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society says branded products cost more because companies have to recoup costs associated with drug development.
A spokesperson said: “There is no difference between brand name products and generic products, as long as the dose of the drug and the formulation are exactly the same.
“Regardless of the cost, all drugs are manufactured to the same high standards, so you can rest assured that you are buying something safe. “
Martin Lewis, Founder of Money Saving Expert, said: “What really matters is the active ingredient.
“It’s the stuff that gets the job done.
“If it’s the same thing, sticking to brand name drugs doesn’t help your health any more, it just hurts your wealth – with massive markups used to pay for their ads and profits.”
Money Saving Expert compared the cost of 15 common over-the-counter medications.
Over a week at the end of June, they searched for the cheapest price in-store and online at Asda, Boots, Home Bargains, Lloyds, Poundstretcher, Sainsbury’s, Savers, Superdrug and Tesco.
The Money Saving Expert study looked at the cheapest prices for both, not the most expensive.