Pain pills hurt hip pockets

Drug companies are rebranding the same pain pills in multiple different packages, and Australians are paying up to five times more for the same products.

Last year Australians spent about $629 million on over-the-counter branded pain medication, such as Panadol and Nurofen. Consumer site Choice looked into what Australians are really getting when they pay more for premium products. Head of Media Tom Godfrey commented on the company’s findings.  “It’s clear the drug companies have been cashing in on your pain by tempting you to pay a premium for branded pills. The fast and flashy names such as Zavance, Panadol Rapid and Optizorb dress up paracetamol and ibuprofen to get you to pay up to five times more for effectively the same products. Whether you pay three cents or 17 cents a tablet, the same dosage will essentially have the same effect,” he said.

So what should you be looking for on the packet? Choice recommends looking at the active ingredients on the packet. 500mg of paracetamol is 500mg of paracetamol, no matter what you call the tablets in the box, so decide what dosage you need and pick the cheapest version. It is also worth noting that most painkillers are absorbed within 15-30 minutes so don’t be fooled by claims of faster absorption.

To read more on Choice tests, reviews and campaigns, go to