How Checking The PL Number Stops You Getting Ripped Off By Branded Medication




Branded medicine is one of the biggest rip offs around, and the chances are you could have got it for a fraction of the price if you knew about checking the PL number.

Never heard of a PL number?

I’m not surprised, they don’t exactly scream it from the roof tops as the cheeky, rip off merchant, pharmaceutical companies want you to continue to shop blind, spending way more than you ever needed to.

In fact I’d put money on it that you have more than one of the exact same drug in your cupboards, but you’ve been lead to believe they are different and specific to your complaint.

By the end of this article you’ll never get stung by these little cretins ever again!


What is a PL number?

A medication is given a PL number by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) when it is licensed to be marketed in the UK.

The one thing the MHRA has no control of is the price they are sold at.

So basically, a big name brand can pick up that medication and sell it for £5, whilst you may be able to get the exact same thing in ALDI for pennies.

Same drug, different packaging, MASSIVE rip off!

How to check a PL number

As I mentioned above, every drug is given its own PL number, for instance PL 12063/0104 is a cold and flu remedy.

If that is on the box of a well known brand, it’s going to cost a lot more than a supermarket’s own branded tablets – A LOT MORE!

There is absolutely no difference other than the price.

If you want to be sure, just check the PL number against the cheaper option, if that number is the same, it’s the same drug and will work in exactly the same way.


Other marketing medicine blags to be aware of

The pharmaceutical industry is full of smart arse marketeers who’s job it is to convince us, the consumer, that their brand is the dogs bollocks and best for our condition.

Now, here is the really crafty part.

You’re probably familiar with brands advertising to us for certain conditions such as period pains, back pain, sinuses etc.

Those tablets that they manipulate us into believing are for a specific complaint, could well be the same as a cheaper option.

They are not targeting specific types of pain at all, that’s just what they want you to believe.

Whilst you think the only option for your pain is this specific, expensive, branded pain killer, it could actually be sat on a shelf in ALDI for less than 50p.

Feel cheated? You should!

But now you know, and you can give the two fingered salute to the pharmaceutical companies from here on!

Pin for later

Branded medicine is one of the biggest rip offs around, and the chances are you could have got it for a fraction of the price if you knew about checking the PL number. Never heard of a PL number? I'm not surprised, they don't exactly scream it from the roof tops as the cheeky, rip off merchant, pharmaceutical companies want you to continue to shop blind, spending way more than you ever needed to. In fact I'd put money on it that you have more than one of the exact same drug in your cupboards, but you've been lead to believe they are different and specific to your complaint. By the end of this article you'll never get stung by these little cretins ever again!



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David Jack Taylor is the founder and editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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17 thoughts on “How Checking The PL Number Stops You Getting Ripped Off By Branded Medication

  1. Oh dear, that is annoying. I hate it when big drug companies do this, all they care about is making money! We usually ask our local chemist if there’s any other equivalent to the medicine. Thank goodness our chemist is very good at this and giving advice.

  2. As someone who works in the pharmaceutical industry I feel slight disappointed by the generalization in this post because not all companies are like that. Though MHRA does not control our prices, you should check how much they charge us to keep the drug on the market or how we have to fight NICE to actually get the product on the market after spending a £1 billion plus trying to get the medicine on the market {this does not even include the countless doctors, patients and nurses on work on clinical trials} and those ‘other brands’ only come into play after our patents have expired.
    Not many people know about PL because not many care so long as the drug works.
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  3. I worked in a cross border pharmacy for years and years. The generic brand always works just as well as the brand name. The difference? How much money you want to keep in your wallet.

    Interesting that I don’t use pharmaceuticals at all and never have but I’ve worked in the industry.

  4. This was a really interesting read. I always avoid branded unless it really is the last thing on the shelves. Now I know about the PL number I’m definitely feeling like an empowered consumer

  5. wow this was very interesting reading – I haven’t heard of the PL number but I was aware there are often cheaper versions of medications around. It’s such a huge industry, these big brands make billions don’t they and half the time it’s a complete rip-off!!
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  6. Gosh, what a fascinating post. I already do buy shop’s own brands of medication, rather than the well known ones, but didn’t know about the PLnumbers. Will definitely be looking out for this in future.

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