7 Tips for Cutting Medicine Costs and Free Prescriptions

When you’re feeling ill, the last thing you want to worry about is how much you’re spending on pricey pills and health treatments. If you’re sick and tired of paying constantly for prescriptions, then you’ll be keen to hear that there are tips and tricks to get around this for cutting medicine costs.

Here are our seven tips for cutting medicine costs and how to cut the price of your prescriptions and getting free prescriptions, so you can concentrate on a swift recovery.

1. Asthma medicine charges

Asthma currently affects around 5.4 million people in the UK alone. In a recent study by Asthma UK, 64% of asthma sufferers said that the cost of asthma prescriptions has a negative impact on their finances.

If your doctor prescribes you inhalers, each inhaler counts as a separate prescription, costing you the standard prescription rate of £8.80 per pump. This means if you need two inhalers, you will have to pay £17.60, if you need three £26.40 and so on. This standard rate also applies to all asthma-related medicines and devices such as spacers and Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists (LTRA) tablets. Add in preventative measures such as hay fever medication and treatments and the overall bill can mount up.

2. Nebulisers

If your asthma symptoms become worse, you may even need to use a nebuliser and, if your hospital is unable to lend you one, these can be expensive to buy. However, you can save a fair bit by buying as much nebuliser medication as you can in one go. Whether you are getting a week’s worth or a month’s worth, the cost will be £8.80. It is also worth shopping around for the main nebuliser machine, as places like Argos and Amazon are often cheaper than standard medical suppliers.

3. Free prescriptions

All prescriptions cost a flat fee of £8.80, although they are free if you are:

  • Over 60 or under 16
  • Between 16-18 and in full-time education
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months
  • An NHS in-patient
  • In a relationship with someone who receives income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment & support allowance, or pension credit guarantee credit.

You can find out more about free NHS prescriptions and NHS exemption certificates on the NHS website. Prescriptions are also free if you have a valid Medical Exemption Certificate, which is given for a range of illnesses such as epilepsy or cancer.

4. Reduced price prescriptions

If you regularly need to shell out on prescriptions then you can save pounds by subscribing to a prescription prepayment certificate – basically a prescription season ticket!

A three-month one costs £29.10 and a year costs £104 – once you’ve got it, it covers all your prescriptions at that time. If you often have more than one prescription a month there is a good chance that you can save with this scheme. You can spread the cost by direct debit so you won’t have to pay for it all at once. Also, ff you are on a low income the NHS may be able to help you with lower medicine costs

5. Go for over-the-counter instead

Sometimes you may be prescribed common medication such as painkillers or dermatology creams that are available much cheaper over the counter. Instead of spending the money on the prescription, you can save money by buying over-the-counter products like aqueous cream, paracetamol, antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream.

6. Buy the cheaper brands

Pharmaceutical companies spend a fortune on marketing gimmicks that encourage you to only buy their well-known brands. The reality is that cheaper brands or supermarket own-brand medication often contains the exact same ingredients – and they’re much cheaper!

EXPERT TOP TIP: Check the PL number on the side of the packet when comparing brands. This is the unique Product Licence number given exclusively to a particular drug made by a particular manufacturer. If the PL number is the same, it’s the same drug!

7. Check out online pharmacies

Buying medicines online can be much cheaper, especially if you bulk buy, but make sure they’re reputable and safe. Check that all websites you look at are registered and that they display the European common logo on every page, a legal requirement since July 2015. Also, steer clear of any sites that don’t ask for your prescription and try to prescribe you online instead. Finally, make sure the medicine you’re buying is within the use-by-date, especially if you’re buying in bulk. Then go ahead and lap up those bargains!
(Prices correct as of April 2018)


We hope some of the tips above help you to reduce your medicine and prescription costs, which will allow you to spend those savings on equally important everyday items or even allow you to save a little!