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10 common pharmacy products you don't need

Which over-the-counter medicines, supplements and health products are best left on the shelf?

Last updated: 29 June 2018


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

You might think pharmacies only sell products worth buying, and certainly the medicines sold from behind the counter would fall into that category.

But scanning the shelves, we found a surprising number of products that couldn't possibly live up to their claims, others that might do more harm than good and some that don't offer very good value for money.

Here are 10 you might give a miss.

shonkys 2017 vitagummies kidsmart vitamins

Vitamin lollies and goat milk chews

These are essentially treats with little nutritional value. Save your money and buy real food and milk (lactose-free or goat) instead.


Blooms Back, Neck & Shoulders +

Even if this turmeric and magnesium supplement works, oral medicine can't target pain in specific areas of the body.


Dick Wicks Magnetic Knee Support

There's no good quality evidence to show that magnetic bandages work any better than regular bandages, which are a lot cheaper.


Bioglan Melatonin

Melatonin helps some people with sleep problems, but there's no evidence homeopathic melatonin such as Bioglan Melatonin works.


Toddler and junior formula

Apart from being more expensive than fresh or powdered milk, some toddler and junior formulas contain less protein and calcium, and filling up on these may discourage healthy eating.

painkiller tablets

Combined paracetamol and ibuprofen pills

Combination pills offer a convenient, though more expensive, type of painkiller that may be more effective than paracetamol or ibuprofen alone. However, they're not suitable for all types of pain, and confusion around dosage has raised concerns.


Sudafed PE and others

Studies have found that phenylephrine, or PE, the active ingredient in various decongestant medicines, isn't effective.


Eye drop products with benzalkonium chloride

These can cause eye irritation in some people, and there are concerns that long-term use can damage the surface of the eye.


Fluoride-free toothpaste

Many so-called "natural" toothpastes don't contain fluoride which, when used as recommended, is a safe and effective treatment to prevent dental cavities.


Cough medicine

There's a surprising lack of evidence that cough medicines work.

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