How to save money on your medication, no matter if it's prescribed or over-the-counter medications
If you are fed up with the price of over-the-counter medicines, I have a trick for you to help you save some cash.
Take a look at the back of a packet of drugs, and you'll see a drug code printed on the back of the packaging. UK medications are assigned a unique identifier called a Product License number or PL number. This number can be found printed on the drug manufacturers packaging and provides information about the medication, including the active ingredients and dosage.
Any product with the same ingredients will have an identical PL code printed on the box by the drug companies, no matter if it's generic medications or big branded products. This is a super helpful way to find cheaper versions of medicines with the same ingredients as a big brands products, allowing you to buy own-brand or generic drugs, at the lowest price, offering you the best deals and significant savings on common medications.
This means you can check the back of any packaging to see if a cheaper product has the same PL code; if it does, you can save money, using these generic alternatives, without paying the big brand prices! You can also perform an internet search for the PL code, and this will bring up products with the same code.
You can use the National Health Service (NHS) website, the Electronic Medicines Compendium (EMC). The EMC is a comprehensive database of all licensed medicines in the UK, including Northern Ireland, and provides information about the PL number, active ingredients, dosage, and other important details and you can use the search tool to see what medications the PL number is used in.
This is designed for health practitioners only; however 'allegedly' I was very quickly able to set up an account on the site by entering my details and selecting a listed health trust at random, and this allowed me to set myself up to browse all the information about a product and its ingredients and PL codes, which is very detailed. It even has the patient guides, you usually get in with the box of medication, available to read as well, and this shows any side effects, so it is a fantastic resource!
Once you have identified the medication you usually use, you can click the option for finding a product with the same active ingredient. This will show all the products with the same ingredients, plus anything with the same ingredients with extra ingredients added as well.
This can be handy if you prefer a specific product that works well for you, say a particular headache relief product or flu medicines, as you might find another product that also contains a decongestant and well as the same headache ingredients, meaning you can get the headache relief you like, but with extra decongestant benefits.
It also means it will show you the budget ranges, which will save you money, and in the case of products such as particular hay fever remedies that don't, as it turns out, having checked on the system, have any cheaper alternatives, you can then perform a price comparisons search on that product and find the best price, or to make life easier you can order online from companies such as Pharmacy2U.
You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a generic alternative available that may be less expensive; they will be able to tell you.
By checking the PL number on the back of the packaging and comparing prices across different brands and generics, you can save money on non-prescription medication in the UK, but be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before making any significant changes to your medication regime though, just in case, but for more generic medication such as headache pills, you're all good!
But can you save money on your prescriptions? Yup!
Save money on your prescription fees
If you use prescription drugs on a regular basis, and don't have a medical exemption certificate, a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) could help you save money. With a PPC, you can get all your NHS prescriptions, including dental prescriptions, without paying individual prescription charges for each medicine you need. You purchase a 'season ticket' for your medications, meaning you make a yearly or quarterly payment, and this will cover all the prescription medicines you need over the time you've paid for.
If you use a lot of medications and have to pay for your prescriptions usually, it's a great way to lower your prescription costs. However, it does not cover the cost of health items like wigs and fabric supports, which are only available through the hospital service, this scheme isfor medication costs. You can use your PPC for your prescription medications at your local pharmacy or most of the online pharmacies.
There are three options to choose from when buying a PPC.
The three-month prepayment certificate costs £31.25 and is the best option if you need more than three prescribed items in three months.The 12-month PPC costs £111.60 and is suitable if you require more than eleven prescribed items in a year.
The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) PPC costs £19.30 and is for menopause prescription items licensed to treat menopause symptoms. This option is beneficial if you need more than two prescribed HRT items in a year, regardless of why they are prescribed for you.You can find more information about the HRT PPC on the NHS Business Services Authority website.
Buying a 12-month PPC can save you a considerable amount of money. For example, if you need two items monthly, you can save £120.00 with a 12-month option PPC. If you require three items each month, you can save £235.80; for four items each month, you can save £351.60.
You can pay for a PPC upfront or by ten monthly direct debit instalments if you opt for a 12-month PPC.
Before you apply for a PPC, check if you're eligible for free prescriptions. If you're eligible, you won't need a PPC.
Applying for a PPC is quick and easy. You can buy one online, and it will start from the day you submit your application unless you request a different start date.
You can also call the PPC order line to apply. If you choose to apply by phone, your certificate will be valid from the day you make the call unless you request otherwise. Some pharmacies may also sell PPCs.
It's essential to remember to apply for a new PPC in plenty of time before it expires. You should not use your certificate after it expires, and the NHS Business Services Authority checks that patients who claim free NHS prescriptions are entitled to the exemption they have declared.
If you have to pay for prescriptions while you're waiting for details about a new PPC and need to apply for a refund, ask the pharmacist for an NHS receipt (FP57) so you can claim back the cost. You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to three months after paying.
Remember, if you buy a 12-month PPC by direct debit, you are entering into a commitment to pay all the instalments.
If you have a prepayment certificate, as I do, it makes ordering prescriptions a doddle, as I use Pharmacy2U, and they alert me when I'm running low on medication, ask me if I want to place a repeat prescription with my GP, and if so, they organise that for me, and then once the doctor issues the prescription, they send it my home, free of charge! It's so easy and saves so much hassle!