Chemist Survey

Reporter: Mark Gibson

In a world of rising prices, you don't want to pay top dollar just to feel well.

"It's a matter really of being able to balance the budget between the needs and requirements of your life" says Michelle Kosky.

Tonight, we've got the facts on pharmacies, we've compared the chemists and the good news is you can save a small fortune.

Today Tonight surveyed fourteen chemists across Perth, as well as two online pharmacies, checking the prices of twelve products, everything from painkillers to pregnancy kits.

"Unless items are on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and subsidised by the Commonwealth Government then the price fluctuations mimick everything else in the economy".

We also compared the price of today's products with an identical basket of goods last year.

Well, at the most expensive chemist our grand total was almost $163.95.

The cheapest was Chemist Warehouse in North Perth, where the same products cost $117.48.

A saving of $46.47. Not bad for a basket of just twelve items.

"We pride ourselves on being the cheapest in Perth and even Australia if we can lay that claim" says Sunny.

Sunny Narula from Chemist Warehouse says pharmacies can charge what they like, but they guarantee discounts across the board.

"Not just one or two, we choose to discount all prices and we buy in large quantities where we can actually get the best deal from our suppliers and we'll pass that on to our consumers wherever possible" says Sunny.

You can find bargains across town, depending on what you're looking for.

Codral Cold and Flu tablets cost $9.99 at Greg's Discount Pharmacy in Mirrabooka, but we found the same 24 pack for as much as nineteen $19.95. That's double the price.

Chemist Warehouse in North Perth was the cheapest for Visine eye drops at $7.69, but you could pay as much as $14.95 for the same 15ml drops. Again that's nearly double.

For Mylanta Antacid, Pharmacy 777 in Cottesloe had the best price, $5.95, but you could pay $11.95 at the same pharmacy in another suburb.

For Naprogesic tablets, Chemist Warehouse North Perth was again the cheapest at $5.69. The most expensive was $10.95. Almost twice the price.

Michelle Kosky from the Health Consumers' Council says when money's tight, sadly, health care suffers.

"People on fixed incomes and on low incomes and on pensions were sacrificing their health care to pay for food and accommodation, so any price shift in medications has an adverse impact on those people" says Michelle.

In recent years, there's been a new kid on the block. Online pharmacies.

Of the twelve products we surveyed, five of them were cheapest on the internet.

Difflam throat spray cost $9.20 at onlinepharmacy.com.au.

The highest price was eighteen $18.89.

The Clear Blue pregnancy test was $15.95 at pharmacydirect.com.au, saving more than ten dollars on the most expensive kit which was $26.29.

Claratyne Tablets cost $9.95. They can cost almost nineteen dollars in a regular chemist.

"As with anything you do on line, internet pharmacies come with a warning. With fewer overheads, the prices are competitive, but you don't get the one on one service and advice from a qualified professional".

The average basket price of this year's items was $144.35.

Compare that to last year's average of $142.31 and you can see prices have gone up, but only by a couple of dollars.

Once again, this survey proves you can beat any price hike, by following the golden rule.

"If possible if people can check around, find out where they're going to get the best value, the best bang for their buck, that would be the advice of the Health Consumers' Council" says Michelle.