How to save on hay fever tablets

Knowing how to save on hay fever tablets is essential if you are a regular sufferer - follow these tips to find relief for less

Woman blowing nose on tissue
(Image credit: getty images)

Knowing how to save on hay fever tablets is particularly important at a time when the cost of everything, including energy bills, fuel and food prices, is soaring. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can cut the cost of hay fever treatment, from using generic brands to shopping around.

Living with hay fever symptoms can be pretty miserable, especially in the warmer weather - but don’t pay more for relief than you need to. (If you’re pregnant and suffering with hay fever, read our guide to whether you can take hay fever tablets when pregnant.) 

Sue Snelling (opens in new tab), online pharmacy manager at Oxford Online Pharmacy (opens in new tab), told us: “With everyone’s costs rising at the moment, using a generic drug instead of a brand-name medicine where possible is one great cost-cutting area hay fever sufferers can make a saving and provide real value for money. We’re finding that customers are really appreciating suggested generic options at the moment and often haven’t realised the amount of ££s that can be saved by these.”

While tablets can be an effective solution for adult hay fever sufferers, if your baby is showing signs of hay fever, there are more suitable remedies you can try.

How to save on hay fever tablets  

There are a number of ways consumers can save on hay fever tablets. A good place to start is to pay attention to the key, or ‘active’, ingredient as this is the one that will actually treat your symptoms. 

Marc Donovan (opens in new tab), chief pharmacist at Boots (opens in new tab), explains: “Hay fever relief tablets, also known as antihistamines, are available over-the-counter and can contain different active ingredients. They all work by blocking the effects of the substance histamine in your body. Some hay fever treatments may work better for some people than others, depending on your main symptoms and response. It is a good idea to speak to your pharmacist to help find the product or combination of products that works best for you.” 

The two most common active ingredients are Cetirizine Hydrochloride which is found in brands such as Piriteze and Benadryl, and Loratadine which is found in brands such as Clarityn. Both are non-drowsy and well-tolerated, but which one you choose will depend on personal preference. 

There’s also Chlorphenamine Maleate which is found in Piriton, but this can make you feel drowsy.

Once you know which active ingredient works best for you, there's no need to pay for the big brand names. Instead, shop around for cheaper generic alternatives. All medicines are made to the same standard so these generic versions will be just as effective as the branded products.

Many supermarkets and other retailers sell low-cost own-brand versions, but it’s worth looking at online pharmacies too, such as Chemist Direct (opens in new tab), Chemist4U (opens in new tab) and Pharmacy First (opens in new tab). Just keep in mind that you will usually have to pay a delivery fee if you’re buying online, and you’ll be asked to fill in an online questionnaire to explain your condition. If you don’t provide enough information, your order could be refused.

Cheapest hay fever tablets on the high street 

Below we’ve listed some of the cheapest hay fever tablets at different retailers, breaking it down for each key hay fever ingredient, so you can compare more easily. Where possible, we’ve looked at 30-pack boxes. 

Cetirizine 

ShopPriceNumber of tabletsCost per tabletWhen taken
Amazon (opens in new tab)£1.29304.3pDaily
ASDA£2.75309.2pDaily
Boots (opens in new tab)£1.99307pDaily
Chemist4U99p303.3pDaily
Chemist Direct (opens in new tab)£1.49305pDaily
Lloyds Pharmacy (opens in new tab)£1.60305.3pDaily
Morrisons (opens in new tab)£2.75309.2pDaily
Pharmacy First (opens in new tab)79p302.6pDaily
Sainsbury's (opens in new tab)£2.953010pDaily
Superdrug (opens in new tab)£2.49308.3pDaily
Tesco (opens in new tab)£2.75309.2pDaily
Wilko (opens in new tab)£2.50308.3pDaily

Prices correct at time of writing. 

Cheapest option: Pharmacy First.

Loratadine 

ShopPriceNumber of tabletsCost per tabletWhen taken
Amazon (opens in new tab)£4.993017pDaily
ASDA£2307pDaily
Boots (opens in new tab)£1.99307pDaily
Chemist4U99p303.3pDaily
Chemist Direct (opens in new tab)£1.49305pDaily
Lloyds Pharmacy (opens in new tab)£4.99608pDaily
Morrisons (opens in new tab)£2.75309.2pDaily
Pharmacy First (opens in new tab)99p303.3pDaily
Sainsbury's (opens in new tab)£2.953010pDaily
Superdrug (opens in new tab)£2.49308.3pDaily
Tesco (opens in new tab)£2.75309.2pDaily
Wilko (opens in new tab)£2.50308.3pDaily

Prices correct at time of writing. 

Cheapest option: Pharmacy First and Chemist4U.

Chlorphenamine maleate

Chlorphenamine maleate tablets come in lower strengths compared to cetirizine hydrochloride and loratadine (typically 4mg versus 10mg), which means you need to take more than one a day. 

Not as many retailers sell chlorphenamine maleate tablets, but here’s where you can find them:

ShopPriceNumber of tabletsCost per tabletWhen taken
Boots (opens in new tab)£2.993010pEvery 4-6 hours
Chemist4U£2.49289pEvery 4-6 hours
Chemist Direct (opens in new tab)£2.992811pEvery 4-6 hours
Lloyds Pharmacy (opens in new tab)£4.193014pEvery 4-6 hours
Pharmacy First (opens in new tab)99p283.5pEvery 4-6 hours

Prices correct at time of writing. 

Cheapest option: Pharmacy First.

Key things to look out for when buying cheaper hay fever tablets  

When looking for cheaper hay fever tablets, there are a number of points to be aware of. 

Firstly, you should always read the label carefully to make sure you’ve got the correct active ingredient. But you should also make sure you don’t have any allergies to the non-active ingredients either. 

In addition, it’s worth looking at whether you’ll save by buying in bulk as it will often reduce the cost per hay fever tablet. However, make sure you check the use by date carefully and consider whether you’ll be able to use the tablets in time. Many online stores have great offers on larger packs, but they also tend to come with shorter use by dates, so always check first. 

Niamh McMillan (opens in new tab), pharmacy superintendent at Superdrug (opens in new tab), also advises: “Look out for promotions, too. A third to half price promotions are frequent during summer months, plus the option for free delivery.”

Finally, always buy from reputable sources only. All pharmacies, whether on the high street or online, must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) (opens in new tab), so be sure to check your chosen pharmacy is registered before buying. 

Some pharmacies will display a logo, but this scheme is voluntary so if you can’t find one, you can check the list of registered pharmacies or carry out a search for a particular pharmacy on the GPhC website (opens in new tab)

Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to lovemoney.com (opens in new tab). She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket where she helped support the CRM programme, as well as the SEO and PR teams, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping consumers become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.