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Save money on over-the-counter medicines

March 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Consumer Specialist Ric Romero teamed up with Consumer Reports to find the best prices for over-the-counter medicines. Americans spend more than $7 billion a year on over-the-counter medicines such as: pain relievers, cold medicine, and drugs for heartburn.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart wanted to find out just where you can get the "best drugstore deals."

"We had shoppers compare prices at big chains like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens," said Jody Rohlena, Consumer Reports. "We also had them check out Target and Walmart, as well as independent pharmacies."

At stores across the country, shoppers checked prices on over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, as well as pain relievers and treatments for heartburn.

"We found that in every case, Target and Walmart had the lowest prices," said Rohlena.

For example, a bottle of 30 Claritin RediTabs cost $24.70 at Walgreens, versus $19.41 at Walmart. That's more than a $5 savings. And a 65-tablet bottle of Maximum Strength Zantac 150 heartburn tablets was $24.34 at an independent pharmacy, compared to $15.74 at Target. That's more than an $8 savings.

ShopSmart Magazine found you can save even more if you buy store-brand over-the-counter medicines.

Again, Walmart and Target had the best prices. The savings are impressive. Maximum Strength Zantac 150 heartburn tablets at Target cost 24 cents per tablet, but the store-brand is just 7 cents a tablet -- a fraction of the cost.

Where will you pay the most for over-the-counter medicine?

ShopSmart found independent drugstores usually had the highest prices, but big national drugstore chains can charge just about as much.