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Pharmacy price war 2018: Dischem vs Clicks vs Checkers vs Pick n Pay vs Spar

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Consumer confidence is up, as is South Africa’s economy – but consumers still need to be mindful of the recent VAT hike, and the categories of commonly-bought items which are not exempt.

Health products and medicines are some of the most expensive items on a shopping list, and are often overlooked as an area where one can save some money.

While common food items like brown bread, fruit and vegetables are exempt from the recent VAT hike to 15%, over the counter (OTC) medicines will definitely cost you more now – making the approaching winter months, and the ailments that come with it, a much pricier prospect.

Along with many privately-owned pharmacies across South Africa, companies such as Dischem and Clicks Pharmacies have made dispensaries widely available to the public.

On top of these specialist stores, most of South Africa’s grocery stores carry common over the counter medical aides, with some of the bigger stores in the franchises also having their own special pharmaceutical dispensaries.

Pick n Pay has its in-store pharmacy PnP Dispensary at 31 stores in South Africa – while Shoprite and Checkers has over 140 MediRite Pharmacies in stores across the country.

Spar also has an in-store Pharmacy at Spar brand in select locations.

We shopped around for 10 common OTC items at these stores, and found out which offered the lowest prices.

Promotional discounts were not taken into consideration for this comparison, though it should be noted that stores hold specials on a regular basis – often seasonally, to cater for associated ailments.

ProductDischemCheckers Medirite Clicks PharmacyPick n Pay PharmacyPharmacy at Spar
Linctagon Lozenges (15+5s) R49.95 R49.99 R44.95 R50.95 R49.45
MedLemon (8s) R39.90 R39.99 R42.95 R46.39 R45.49
Strepsils (24s) R52.90 R52.99 R53.95 R65.56 R65.59
Vicks Acta Plus (150ml) R59.95 R59.99 R61.95 R52.99 R70.15
Citro Soda (60g) R49.95 R47.99 R49.99 R54.99 R55.49
Sinutab (15ml) R47.96 R56.99 R64.99 R65.56 R62.55
Elastoplast Fabric (10s) R31.95 R31.99 R31.95 R42.27 R33.29
Panado (24 tablets) R23.95 R21.99 R22.95 R24.20 R23.99
Vicks Vaporub (50g) R39.65 R41.99 R39.99 R44.99 R48.45
Germolene Ointment (20g) R38.95 R38.99 R38.99 R43.37 R41.85
Total R435.11 R442.90 R452.66 R491.27 R496.30

While most baskets increased at all the stores, Checkers’ Medirite basket saw a big decrease in the total between 2017 and 2018, despite the VAT hike.

When the 2017 review was done, Checkers actually carried some of the heftiest prices out of all the pharmacies covered – now it has some of the cheapest.

Pharmacy2017 total2018 totalChange
Checkers Medirite R469.77 R442.90 -5.72%
Dischem R423.50 R435.11 +2.74%
Clicks Pharmacy R427.00 R452.66 +6.01%
Pick n Pay Pharmacy R453.90 R491.27 +8.23%
Pharmacy @ Spar R452.40 R496.30 +9.70%

All prices were sourced in-store in shops around Centurion on in April 2018. Promotional discounts were not included.

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