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6 ways to save money on prescription medicines

Netdoctor (UK) logo Netdoctor (UK) 16/11/2018 Rita Ghelani
Stressed about the price of medicines? Our resident pharmacist recommends the best ways to save the pennies on both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. © Getty Images Stressed about the price of medicines? Our resident pharmacist recommends the best ways to save the pennies on both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

The standard prescription cost in England is currently £8.80 per item. If you have a long term condition and rely on regular medication to manage the condition, the costs can start to add up.

Our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani gives the inside scoop on money saving tips, so you can focus on getting the best from your health:

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1. Buy a prescription season ticket

If you plan ahead you can cut the cost of repeat prescriptions by buying a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). This is a bit like having a medication season ticket. You can pay £29.10 for three months or £104 for 12 months to cover all the prescriptions charges you would otherwise have to pay.

This means that you can save more than £105 over 12 months if you have two medicine each month. You can purchase a prescription prepayment certificate either online or by phone - contact the NHS PPC services.

2. Opt for own-branded medicines

Buying own-branded medicines from a pharmacist can help you save money, as these are usually cheaper than the branded version. To compare medicines, look for the active ingredient listed on the packaging and the dose.

Medicine  © Getty Medicine 

3. Shop around

The price of own branded medicines can vary quite a bit, so it’s worth doing some research to get the best deals. It is also worth shopping around if you have a private prescription, as the cost of these can also vary depending on the pharmacy retailer - either in the high street or online.

4. Consider over-the-counter

Medication  © Getty Medication 

If you’re prescribed a common medication such as a painkiller, a cream for eczema, or antihistamines that is not a prescription only medicine, it may be cheaper to buy them from the pharmacy rather than get them supplied on a prescription.

There is no hard and fast rule on this, as it may be cheaper to get your medication on prescription if your doctor has given you a large quantity to last for several months. For example, if your doctor has kindly given you three months’ supply of antihistamines for the summer months, it would be cheaper for you to use this prescription rather than buy three months' supply of antihistamine from the pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist to help you decide.

5. Avoid targeted painkillers

Targeted medicines such as those labelled specifically for headaches and back pain are just there to make you buy a certain brand, but many contain the same active ingredients as generic medicines, and will do the same thing.

The price is usually higher on the branded or targeted ones, so take a look at the list of ingredients and opt for the generic versions to save money.

6. Are you entitled to free prescriptions?

The current cost of a prescription is £8.80 for each medicine you have on your prescription. The cost of this can soon add up if you take medication regularly.

If you think you might be entitled to free prescriptions or if you’re unsure then you can check this by using an NHS online tool – check before you tick, which will tell you if you are entitled to free prescriptions.

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