South Africa is set to enter the Winter flu season when many South Africans will visit pharmacies to purchase medicine.

Although medicine is crucial to fighting off illnesses, it can be incredibly expensive, especially for those who do not account for it in their monthly budgets.

Although covid-19 may seem like a thing of the past, many other diseases are spreading across South Africa, with outbreaks of cholera, mumps and measles recorded since the start of the year.

Dis-Chem and Clicks pharmacies are the largest dispensaries in the country, but cold and flu remedies are also widely available at supermarkets, like Pick n Pay, or at special in-store dispensaries like Medi-Rite in Checkers.

For this list, we have compared the prices for 10 common over-the-counter items that South Africans can buy from the four stores.

For the comparison to be fair, we only looked at the non-promotional prices. If the store only provided the promotional price, we calculated the price using all available information.

Overall, Clicks offers the best basket price and is the only store whose basket costs less than R900.

Dis-Chem, last year’s victor, took the bronze medal, with the Checkers Medi-Rite basket in second place.

Pick n Pay’s basket was the most expensive.

Unlike BusinessTech’s shopping price war, which looked at 16 food and non-food items, the medical and healthcare products chosen are not white-label brands, resulting in prices being extremely close.

A food and product basket comparison that exclusively features house brands will show much larger price differences as stores have greater control over pricing.

For some items, such as Strepsils and Vicks Vaporub, the difference was only a few cents.

This explains why Dis-Chem and Clicks regularly run promotions on various items.

Below are the prices across the stores:

All prices are non-promotional and sourced online. Prices in-store may differ.

Price increases

South Africans have been battling major cost increases over the last year, and medical items are following this trend.

In March, inflation grew to 7.1% from 7.0% in February, according to Stats SA. This comes despite many economists predicting a slight decrease to 6.9%.

Inflation of food and non-alcoholic beverages were major contributors to the increase, increasing by 14.0% year-on-year.

Our shopping price war also showed a major increase in the cost of food and non-food items, increasing by an average of 12.96% year-on-year across retailers.

However, the average year-on-year increase for medical items was higher than it was in the shopping price war, coming out at 13.76%.

The largest jump came from Dis-Chem, with a 15.94% increase.

Clicks saw the smallest increase of 11.77%, which helped it climb from third last year to this year’s winner.