Over the Counter Meds Savings Secrets

by Jennifer B.
OTC Meds Savings Secrets photo

A pharmacist’s OTC meds savings secrets will help you look past slick marketing and to actual product ingredients to determine exactly what you are buying and whether you could be saving.

I’ve been a pharmacist for a national retail chain for 18 years. There are so many marketing ploys out there to rob unknowing consumers of their dollars.

The truth about some generic OTC meds

We all know that generic products can save us money, but many times we don’t realize what we are actually getting.

We seriously have cough syrup on the shelf that is watered down honey! You could make that at home and save your money. We also have swimmer’s ear drops that are just alcohol.

Don’t fall for the marketing hype for these OTC products

Big drug companies use their trusted names to market over the counter meds to you at a premium price with the assumption that you won’t actually look at the ingredients.

Chewable Calcium

Did you know that generic antacids (Tums/Rolaids) are 500-1000mg of calcium per tablet and can double as your chewable calcium source if you have a hard time swallowing the large calcium tablets or don’t want to pay a premium price for the caramel calcium chews?

Poison Ivy Cures

When you go on a nature hike through the woods and you end up with a terrible case of poison ivy, you run to the first aid wall in the pharmacy looking for a cure. There are countless branded products promising you relief, and you may be tempted to purchase one. However, I urge you to turn that box over and read the active ingredients. It will more than likely contain some combination of calamine, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and hydrocortisone. These are inexpensive when purchased separately.

Don’t fall for their marketing tricks! Always read the active ingredients and compare prices.

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Antifungals

Did you know that we sell the same antifungal medicine (clotrimazole) but market it for athlete’s foot, jock itch, or vaginal yeast all with separate price points?

Cough and Cold Products

Cough and cold products are notorious for using trigger words to lure you in. “Cold,” sinus,” or “allergy” are printed on boxes and it becomes a confusing decision.

We basically treat runny noses with antihistamines, stuffy nose with decongestants, and cough with a cough suppressant (or antihistamine if the cough is caused by a postnatal drip). All active ingredients are on the back of the box and each ingredient will have a class description to tell you if it’s an antihistamine, decongestant, or cough suppressant.

Price compare from one product to another based on ingredients instead of the name on the front of the box. Buying the single ingredients separately will almost always save you money.

It’s hard to see past all the marketing put in front of you in the pharmacy, but spending a little time looking at the active ingredients will help you know what you are buying. Your pharmacist knows manufacturer traps and is your best resource to save you money on over the counter products!

Reviewed February 2020

You deserve a comfortable retirement.

Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people 50 years and older. Each issue features financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd that can help you plan for a comfortable retirement even if you haven't saved enough.

Debt ChecklistSubscribers get The After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist for FREE!

Your Email:

You deserve a comfortable retirement.

Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people 50 years and older. Each issue features financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd that can help you plan for a comfortable retirement even if you haven't saved enough.

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