How to save money at the chemist

Cold and flu season is most definitely upon us! Before you spend a small fortune on remedies at the pharmacy, read Jade de Souza’s sneaky guide to how to save big on medicines.


Go Generic

Generic drugs are exact copies of their now patent-free pioneer counterparts. Generic medicine manufacturers have no need to recoup the cost of research or marketing and are able to pass the saving on to you. Next time you’re at the chemist, ask for generic. The same applies for over-the-counter medicines.

Discount chemists

The rise of the low-price chemist – able to buy products in bulk at a cheaper price – has taken the sting out of paying for both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These establishments are located nearly everywhere and are worth the trip in savings.

Over the counter

When appropriate, visit your pharmacist before seeing your doctor, as they may be able to offer some readily available alternatives to relieve the symptoms of your problem such as cough medicine, pain relievers or topical creams.

Buy online

Working in a similar way to discount chemists, online chemists – with their lack of overheads – can afford to offer over-the-counter medications at lower prices.


The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is like a year-round stocktake sale on certain pills – you pay a percentage of the retail price, while the government kicks in the rest. If you have a chronic condition, you’ll net extra savings with the means tested safety net – simply start a Safety Net Card and have it updated every time you visit the chemist. The recent federal budget added a number of new medicines to the list.

Ask for a prescription

In some cases, you can save money by obtaining over-the-counter drugs on prescription. This is particularly good for health care card holders, who receive a discount on prescriptions, and those wanting to reach their safety net sooner.


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