Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Mending Your Health on the Cheap

Tis the season that the weather starts changing, people stop spending so much time outdoors and start shutting themselves up indoors, kids starts sharing their school-y germs with their families, and people just start getting sick.  It happens to me almost every year.  I get sick because the weather's drastic changes don't agree so well with my body and I think that in general, people just become more giving of their germs around this time of year. 

As I sit here writing this post and trying to keep the snot monster at bay (is that too much?  Too graphic?  Sorry.), I started thinking about how much medicine costs and if there was any way to minimize the money that I spend on medicine while still making sure that I get effective stuff to knock out the yucky.  A trip to my neighborhood WalMart was in order.  I know that Wally World is a controversial place and is bound to spurn many a family argument over the big box giant, but I was just doing a little price comparison here, folks! 

Below, I have provided examples of commonly used medications where I have priced out the brand name drug and then Walmart's store brand (Equate).  I have carefully examined EVERY. SINGLE. package to ensure that I was truly only comparing apples to apples in terms of the active ingredients in the medication.  According to the powers that be (Google), it's the active ingredients that make a difference, not the inactive ingredients UNLESS you are allergic to some strange off kilter thing like "orange coloring no. 81".  If you have any random allergies like that, you'll want to read the inactive ingredients list before purchasing any medication.  Anyways, I have checked and double checked that the active ingredients on each package were the exact same between the brand name and generic brand medications.  The price difference on some of these was staggering! 

Pepto Bismol, 8 fl oz bottle = $3.84 (.48/oz)
Equate Brand Bismuth Subsalicylate, 8 fl oz bottle = $1.96 (.25/oz)
Price difference = Equate brand is 49% cheaper than brand name

Pepcid AC Max, 50 tablets = $15.47 (.31/tablet)
Equate Brand Famotidine, 60 tablets = $4.00 (.07/tablet)
Price difference = Equate brand is 74% cheaper than brand name

Aleve, 100ct = $8.38 (.08/tablet)
Equate Brand Naproxin Sodium, 100 ct = $4.12 (.04/tablet)
Price difference = Equate brand is 51% cheaper than brand name

Tylenol Xtra Strength, 24 ct = $3.68 (.15/tablet)
Equate Brand Acetominophen, 24 ct = $.98 (.04/tablet)
Price difference = Equate brand is 73% cheaper than brand name

Tylenol for Kids, 3.38 fl. oz. bottle = $4.97 ($1.47/oz)
Equate Brand Acetaminophen, 4 fl. oz. bottle = $2.62 (.66/oz)
Price difference = Equate brand is 55% cheaper than brand name

Claratin for Kids Allergy, 4 fl. oz. bottle = $9.82 ($2.46/oz)
Equate Brand Loratadine for Kids, 4 fl. oz. bottle = $5.83 ($1.46/oz)
Price difference = Equate brand is 40% cheaper than brand name

Dimetapp Kids Cold & Cough, 4 fl. oz. bottle = $4.98 ($1.25/oz)
Equate Brand Kids' Pseudoephedrine, 8 fl. oz. bottle = $3.42 (.43/oz) 
Price difference = Equate brand is 66% cheaper than brand name

Claratin D 24 Hour Allergy, 15 ct = $20.74 ($1.38/tablet)
Equate Brand loratadine and pseudoephedrine Allergy Meds, 10 ct = $9.34 (.93/tablet)
Price difference = Equate brand is 33% cheaper than brand name

Vicks Dayquil/Nyquil caplets, 48 ct = $12.46 (.26/caplet)
Equate Brand Acetaminophen/Dextromethorphan/Pseudoephedrine caplets, 40 ct = $5.97 (.15/caplet)
Price difference = Equate brand is 42% cheaper than brand name

Again, active ingredients in each of these medicines was the exact same ingredient in dosage and everything.  The only difference (aside from price, of course) was that some of the sizes of the bottles were different or there were different numbers of tablets or caplets in the packages.  So, I broke it down into price per ounce or price per caplet and did my price comparisons that way.  I was shocked at how much money I've been throwing away by buying brand name medicines.  SHOCKED!

Why do we do this?  That's a question that I'm now really kicking myself for not asking before.  I guess it's because I feel like the brand name meds might work better?  I mean, when I'm sick, I don't care how much I spend, I just want to feel better.  That goes a step further when you look at the kids medicines.  Most of the brand name children's medicine boxes show children who are smiling and happy or they show loving and attentive mothers tending to their sick babies with such care.  The generic boxes are plain white with lettering.  That's it.  Of course, I want to be the mother to the happy smiling child or I want to be the Mommy who is caring for her little one with such love in her eyes.  So, I dump the much more expensive medicine in my cart and rush home to my sick baby.  How much of a sucker am I??

The more I think about this, the more I put it into terms that I can better understand.  If I were to walk into a store and the associate presented me with two sweaters:  one has a GAP label on it and one has no label.  The sales associate tells me that they are the EXACT same sweater, but the one without the label is being sold for 54% cheaper (that's the average from all of the savings above, in case you were wondering!) than the one with the label, I'd jump all over the cheaper one.  I mean, it's the exact same sweater, right?  I might hesitate if the label was in a noticeable place like a pair of UGGS or something--let's be real, we buy UGGs because we want everyone to know we own a pair, right?--but the labels are hidden.  No one will ever know that I have on the label-less sweater over the GAP label.  Just like no one will ever know that my son's cough medicine says Equate on the bottle and lacks pictures of happy smiling healthy children like the other name brands.  See my point, here?

So, go forth, buy generic, save some money, and get healthy!

**Disclaimer:  I am NOT a doctor.  I am NOT a nurse.  I have no medical training whatsoever.  I just used the two decent eyes that God gave me and the reading skills that I aquired thanks to our public schooling system to do a little bit of research.  I am not qualified in any way, shape or form to give medical advice.  Should a medical professional advise that you use one medicine over another (perhaps a generic?) then it is most wise for you to listen to that professional.**

1 comment:

  1. Such a great post! Medicine is crazy expensive! This is why I very rarely take medicine (even if I'm really sick), but if I do I definitely buy generic. Have a great Thursday :)


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