It's enough to give you a headache.
If you thought you'd been short-changed by the cost of painkillers last time you had a cold, or by hayfever tablets as soon as spring came, you were probably right.
Branded medication costs on average nearly three times as much as generic equivalents that do exactly the same job, according to research by MoneySavingExpert.com.
The worst offender was painkiller Nurofen, manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser, which costs eight times as much as its generic counterpart.
A packet of 16 Nurofen from Asda cost £1.98, while Ibuprofen, made of the same ingredients and bringing about the same result, cost 25p, also at Asda. That's a difference of 87 per cent.
In second and third place, a 30-pill packet of hayfever relief drug Clarityn was 83 per cent more expensive than the generic Loratadine, while a 16-pack of Anadin Paracetamol was 81 per cent more expensive than 16 non-branded Paracetamol.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said:
The pharmaceutical industry is full of genuine wizards. There are the ones who make the drugs that help in the first place. Then there are the marketers who use a raft of tricks to persuade us there’s hidden magic to their branded goods.
Actually what really counts is the active ingredient. That's the stuff that does the job. If it's the same, sticking with branded drugs doesn't give extra aid to your health, it just hurts your wealth - with massive mark-ups that go to pay for their adverts and profits.
Consumers also need a healthy dose of scepticism when it comes to marketing claims that painkillers can target one specific area of your body.
"These household name firms also sell virtually identical products in different packaging, to make you think you’ve got a targeted special medicine for your condition – in fact it’s just the same old thing," Lewis added.
"Yet the marketing creates a little doubt - we’re all guilty of thinking ‘surely there must be a reason for saying this one is good for back pain’ - and when you’re hurting you spend a little extra."
Only people who have allergies need to take care, MoneySavingExpert.com added, as sufferers need to check there's nothing in the "non-active" ingredients that is different and could cause a problem.
|Branded product||Cheapest price||Generic equivalent||Cheapest price||Saving as a percentage|
|1. Nurofen (16)||£1.98 Asda||Ibuprofen (16)||25p Asda||87 per cent|
|2. Clarityn (30)||£6 Sainsbury's (i)||Loratadine (30)||£1 Savers||83 per cent|
|3. Anadin Paracetamol (16)||£1 Savers||Paracetamol (16)||19p Asda||81 per cent|
|4. Nurofen Joint and Back Pain Gel 35g||£4 Asda||Ibuprofen gel 35g||99p Home Bargains||75 per cent|
|5. Piriteze (30)||£6 Sainsbury's (i)||Cetirizine (30)||£1.49 Poundstretcher||75 per cent|
|6. Sudafed Blocked Nose capsules(12)||£2.39 Lloyds||Max Strength Congestion Relief||60p Sainsbury's||75 per cent|
|7. Anadin Extra (16)||£1.99 Lloyds||Aspirin Extra||54p Asda||73 per cent|
|8. Imodium Original (6)||£2.19 Savers||Loperamide (6)||59p Home Bargains||73 per cent|
|9. Nurofen Kids 100ml||£3.15 Sainsbury's||Ibuprofen 3+mths||95p Savers||70 per cent|
|10. Vicks Sinex Micromist 15ml||£3 Asda||Nasal Decongestant Spray 15ml||£1 Asda/Tesco||67 per cent|
|11. Calpol Infant 2+ mths 100ml||£2.98 Asda||Infant Paracetamol Suspension 100ml||£1.09 Home Bargains||63 per cent|
|12. Corsodyl 300ml||£4.49 Superdrug||Chlorhexidine 300ml||£2 Sainsbury's||55 per cent|
|13. Nurofen Migraine (12)||£2.65 Sainsbury's||Migraine Relief (12)||£1.35 Asda||49 per cent|
|14. Lemsip Max sachets (10)||£2.69 Savers||Max Strength Cold and Flu||£1.76 Asda||35 per cent|
|15. Piriton (30)||£3 Sainsbury's||Chlorphenamine Maleate (30)||£2.75 Tesco||8 per cent|