Mar 19

Health Products at Bargain Prices

Reading Time: 5 mins

Here at MoneyMagpie HQ, we’re very keen on swapping down a brand for everyday items to save some serious cash. But when it comes to medicines and health products, many of us are in the dark. Is there really such a big difference between cheap own-brand paracetamol and its pricey branded equivalent?

Once again, the MoneyMagpies have been doing some tests of our own – and now we’re passing on everything we found out. Read on for some rather surprising results!


Bargain Contacts

Contact lenses are one of those expensive luxuries all us glasses wearers simply accept paying for. Obviously, you don’t want to damage your eyes with substandard lenses, and you want them to be as comfortable and easy to use as possible.

However, it is possible to achieve all this and not have to pay a fortune, as two of the MoneyMagpies found out.

We tested out some bargain contact lenses from Daysoft to see whether changing down a brand really is a good idea. Here’s what we thought:

  • Most importantly, there seems to be very little difference between these and our regular brands, and even better they are dirt cheap! A month’s supply will get you two boxes of 32 lenses – for £10.48 making a saving of nearly £20.

Something else we took into consideration was the direct debit we had set up with our current provider. Often, paying by direct debit will get you a free eye test, or a contact lens check up, so is it worth switching?

Well, yes actually, we think it is. Our lenses at Boots cost us £38 for one month’s box of 30 lenses. That’s £466.80 a year.

GetLenses offer exactly the same lenses for £32.95 for one month’s box of 30 lenses. However, they also offer a discount if you buy a 12 months’ supply. So a year will cost you £347.76 – the equivalent of £28.98 per box.

Daysoft Lenses offer their equivalent for £10.48 for a month’s supply. That’s £125.76 for the year. That makes a saving of £340.24.

So, even if you do then have to pay for eye tests, there are ways and means to get them cheaply, or possibly even for free.

The NHS offer free eye tests and glasses to certain people.

Vitamins and Nutrition

There’s a brilliant website you should know about if you regularly take vitamin supplements. It’s called Healthspan, and because it’s based in Guernsey, it offers tax-free prices.

It also offers free postage and packing, as well as a free phone contact number if you have any questions or queries.

You can get all kinds of supplements from your basic vitamins right through to specialist tablets for things like joint care and cardio care. They even make vitamins for your pets!

Just to give you an idea of how much you can save, Healthspan Garlic 800mg Capsules are £9.95 for 360, whereas at Holland and Barrett you only get 250 Garlic 1000mg Capsules for the hefty price of £21.79.

At Healthspan, Vitamin C 500mg tablets cost £6.95 for 180 tablets, and the equivalent at Bootswould cost over £8.

Don’t assume you need to take all the different vitamins and supplements. A lot of these you’ll already get through your diet. Often the people who are most in need of supplements are pregnant women, vegetarians, children, the elderly, smokers and those on restricted diets. Boots have got a handy guide to vitamins and supplements so you can start there.

To get the best advice talk to a nutritionist or pharmacist who’ll be able to tell you what, if anything, you should be taking.

Medicines for Less

As with everything else we buy over-the-counter medicines are vying for your attention with shiny, appealing packagaing. Don’t be fooled into buying a well-known brand simply because it looks nicer. More often than not the own-brand, plainly packaged drugs contain exactly the same active ingredients and work in exactly the same way.

Here’s what we’ve found out:

Compare the packaging of Nurofen® with Boots own brand Ibuprofen.

Which looks more appealing? Nurofen®.

Which is more expensive? Nurofen®.

However, Nurofen® is just a brand name. The active ingredient in each is Ibuprofen – this is what gets rid of your aches and pains. Both packets contain 16 tablets. All the tablets are sugar-coated, and they all contain 200mg of Ibuprofen.

The difference? The price.  Nurofen® will set you back £1.95, whereas Boots Ibuprofen costs just 37p. We think it’s a bit of a no-brainer really.

The same goes for loads of other medicines, from hayfever tablets to throat lozenges. Obviously, you should always go for what’s best for you, but check the active ingredients and that the amount of the drug in each tablet is the same and you can be pretty certain that they’ll have the same effect.

It’s also a good idea to check how many tablets you’re getting, here these Strepsil Lozenges cost £2.20 and the Boots own lozenges cost £2.29 – but you’ll only get 16 lozenges in the Strepsil packet, compared with 24 in the Boots one. Paying 9p extra for 8 more lozenges doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.



The charge for prescription medicines is now £7.40.

You are exempt from paying this charge if you fall into any of the categories listed on the NHS website including if you are:

  • Aged 60 or over
  • Under 16
  • Aged 16-18 and in full-time education
  • Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate
  • You are on income support
  • You receive job-seekers allowance

To see the lot take a look at the NHS website now.

Some medicines are free on the NHS. This includes:

  • Medicines administered at a hospital or NHS walk-in centre
  • Prescribed contraceptives
  • Medication personally administeredby a GP

If you need help with health charges have a look at this PDF from the NHS to find out whether you are eligible to get free prescriptions. For our friends across the pond, there’s also discount prescription drugs programs available by signing up online.

It’s worth checking what you’re paying for isn’t available over the counter, because you could be spending much more than you need to.

Get talking to your pharmacist, who should be able to advise you on whether you can get your medication more cheaply without a prescription.

Online Pharmacies

Another way to get affordable medication is to go online.

Just bear in mind that there is nearly always a delivery charge. That means that unless you take regular medication and can order enough to qualify for free delivery, it doesn’t usually work out much cheaper.

If you do decide to use an online pharmacy, we like Chemist Direct and Pharmacy2U. Obviously your health is of supreme importance, so do be cautious when buying medication online.

Read these top tips to make sure you’re savvy to any scams.

  • If you’re going to buy medication online, make sure you look out for this logo on the website you choose. This means it has been accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. To check it’s legitimate, click through to the RPS’s website.
  • Avoid websites who will sell you prescription-only medication without a prescription.
  • Make sure you are asked questions about your condition before being able to buy the medicines online.
  • Whichever website you use, they should ideally be based in the UK. You should also make sure they provide contact details, so you know you can get in touch with someone if you have any problems.

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Rea: Healthspan
“..It also offers free postage and packing,..”
Sorry, but above untrue now. I have been their customer for almost 20yrs and today 30mar2012 I visit and at checkout they make 1.95gbp pp charge. Yep, they have some cheaper prices but not all are. All depends how interested one is as to searching around for alternate sources. Those I have switched to offer superior price and product contents. Somethings like Glucosamine, I’m still on the search for alternate supplier.
Anyway… just to let you know that your quote is no longer valid.

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