The most expensive over-the-counter medications revealed, along with information on how to find them for less money

An audit by MailOnline shows that some brands charge a fortune for simple medicines

Do you have a favorite brand of medicine that you always reach for when you suffer from hay fever or stomach problems?

While they can ease your physical suffering, opting for these famous favorites can hurt your wallet.

MailOnline can reveal that some branded versions of common drugs are nearly six times more expensive than their ‘generic’ or lesser-known equivalents, despite being made from the exact same active ingredients.

Allergy medication Clarityn had one of the biggest mark-ups, costing ?5.85, or 41.8 pence per tablet, for a pack of 14 at Morrisons.

This compares to a pack of 14 Bells Healthcare Hayfever & Allergy Relief tablets at rival supermarket Asda for ?1, or 7.1p per tablet.

An audit by MailOnline shows that some brands charge a fortune for simple medicines

The active ingredient of both medications – the pharmaceutical drug that makes them work – is called loratadine, meaning they work in exactly the same way.

A MailOnline audit of other common drugs has revealed other drugs where you can make huge savings by switching to the generic.

So-called generics are usually sold in simpler packaging and sometimes omit additional ingredients such as sweeteners and dyes found in branded versions.

Pain reliever Nurofen, which contains ibuprofen, was another that charged a premium compared to generic equivalents.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s sells a generic version of ibuprofen containing 16 tablets for just 42p, equivalent to 3p per 200mg pill.

But the equivalent pack of 16 Nurofen Pain Relief 200mg tablets costs ?1.90, 12p per tablet.

Hay fever sufferers can also spend much more.

A 14 pack of Piriteze’s cetirizine hydrochloride costs ?6, or 43p a tablet, at Tesco.

What is a PL number?

Every medicine approved for sale in the UK is given a unique product license number (PL for short).

The numbers can be found on the box the medicine comes in and on the package leaflet.

If the PL number matches a number on another product, it means it’s an identical drug – with the same active ingredients and formulation – just packaged in a different box.

But the supermarket’s own brand 14-tablet allergy treatment costs just ?1.95, or 14p per pill.

Treating Diarrhea Imodium, which contains the ingredient loperamide hydrochloride, is also nearly 200 percent more expensive than its generic equivalent.

A pack of Asda’s treatment containing six tablets of loperamide hydrochloride costs just ?1, or 16.7 pence per tablet.

The six-tablet version of Imodium in the same supermarket costs ?3, or 50p per tablet.

Decongestant nasal sprays are another product for which you may pay an unexpected premium.

The generic version of Sainsbury, which contains oxymetazoline hydrochloride, costs ?1.90, or ?12.67 per 100ml.

Meanwhile, the Vicks branded version, which contains exactly the same active ingredient, costs ?4.50, or ?30 per 100ml, a 138 per cent increase.

Experts said that despite the garish packaging and brand recognition, Britons should not be fooled into thinking a branded version is a more effective product for their ailments.

Superintendent pharmacist for Chemist Click Abbas Kanani told this website: ‘There is not a big difference between the branded and non-branded products.

‘If there are any differences between the products, they are mainly in the inactive ingredients, such as the coloring agents and binders.

“These don’t affect the drug’s mechanism of action, so as long as the active ingredient is the same, the generics will do the same job.”

Mr Kanani added that while some people swear that a certain version of a drug works better, it may be all in their head.

?Occasionally, some patients report that they find the branded version more effective. Because the active ingredient is the same, this reaction is mostly psychological, which is fine,” he said.

He advised people to switch to a generic version the next time they need to take a drug, as it could save them money.

“Because of paying more for branded products, patients will often have been using a particular brand for many years,” he said.

“If you’re open to trying the cheaper generic version, you’ll find it has the same effect.”

Priciest over-the-counter medicines REVEALED – and how you can get the exact same one for cheaper