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Martin Lewis shares secret 'nine digit' code to determine if branded medicine is the same as cheaper option

Martin Lewis shares secret 'nine digit' code to determine if branded medicine is the same as cheaper option

The money saving expert has explained how you can cut costs on healthcare

Martin Lewis has revealed how you could save money on your prescriptions by paying attention to a 'secret' nine digit code on the medicine packaging.

The money saving expert is back at it again, just in time for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to unveil his 2023 budget today (15 March).

Some costs are set to increase as the government lays out its plans for taxes and spending, but Lewis is still trying to help people cut costs on his ITV programme The Martin Lewis Money Show, with the latest episode featuring tips on paying for medicines.

There are already some exemptions in place when it comes to paying for prescriptions, so you won't have to hand over any cash - if you're over 60 or under 16, if you're between 16-18 and in full time education, or if you're pregnant or gave birth in the last 12 months, and have a valid maternity exemption certificate.

If you don't meet any of the requirements for exemptions, Lewis recommended looking for the 'secret nine number code' featured on every medicine box.

The codes can be used to help identify cheaper off-brand alternatives of big name products, with Lewis noting that you will often have to fork out more for packaging with a well-known brand name.

Lewis used two medicines bought on the same day to demonstrate how you can save.
ITV

He used two packets of period pain painkillers as an example, explaining that he bought them on the same day and that they have the same purpose.

"I have in front of me two packets that were bought today. They are both for period pains - painkillers," he said.

"'This one cost £5.29, this is £3.45. But if you look on the side of these boxes, the PL Code, the Product Licence code. 12063/0071. And... 12063/0071."

Lewis demonstrated how packs can have the same code.
ITV

Lewis said the code 'doesn't mean same active ingredient', but means 'these are exactly the same tablets'.

"Exactly the same tablets," he continued. "Same product licence, same tablets, totally different price. Just for the packaging.

"So, when you're buying medications, have a check if other things have the same PL code and they could well be substantially cheaper and it's not the same active ingredient, it's the same tablets."

As well as checking the Product Licence code, Lewis recommended looking at the 'active ingredients' in the medicine to help save money, using Nurofen as an example.

He explained: "If you're buying Nurofen, the active ingredient in it is ibuprofen. You can buy generic ibuprofen for far less than Nurofen, it does the same thing."

Lewis encouraged people to check the other ingredients and what the alternative tablets are coated in in case there is anything you are allergic to, but said the 'active underlying ingredient is the same'.

Lewis has offered more information on how to save on medicines on his website.

Featured Image Credit: The Martin Lewis Money Show/ITV

Topics: Martin Lewis, Money, Health