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Saving on over-the-counter medicines

March 8, 2010 8:43:41 PM PST
Pain relievers, cold medicine, and drugs for heartburn. Americans spend more than $7 billion a year on those over-the-counter medicines. Consumer Reports ShopSmart wanted to find out just where you can get the "Best Drugstore Deals." Pain relievers, cold medicine, and drugs for heartburn. Americans spend more than $7 billion a year on those over-the-counter medicines. Consumer Reports ShopSmart wanted to find out just where you can get the "Best Drugstore Deals."

Shoppers compared prices at big chains across the country, including Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens. They also checked out Target and Walmart, as well as independent pharmacies. In every case, Target and Walmart had the lowest prices.

For example, a bottle of 30 Claritin Reditabs cost $24.70 at Walgreens vs. $19.41 at Walmart. That's more than a $5 savings!

And a 65-tablet bottle of Zantac 150 maximum strength heartburn tablets was $24.34 at an independent pharmacy, compared with $15.74 at Target! That's more than an $8 savings!

And Consumer Reports ShopSmart found that you can save even more if you buy store-brand over-the-counter medicines. Again, Walmart and Target had the best prices. And the savings are impressive. Take Zantac 150 again. At Target it cost 24 cents per tablet. But the store brand was just 7 cents a tablet.

Where will you pay the most for over-the-counter medicine? Consumer Reports ShopSmart found independent drugstores usually had the highest prices, but big national drugstore chains charge just about as much.

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