These Over-the-Counter Drugs Are a Total Waste of Money, According to Doctors

Do you head straight to your local drugstore at the first sign of illness? Your cold symptoms can’t bring you down if you take the necessary drugs, right? It turns out many over-the-counter medications don’t actually do what you think they do. Supplements, too, are easy to purchase — but most of them probably aren’t worth draining your wallet.

There are many drugs and supplements that are totally worth your money. But you can avoid wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars throughout your lifetime by knowing which over-the-counter drugs and supplements you can live without.

1. Robitussin, and other cough syrups

Cough syrup may provide relief, but it doesn’t do much else. | SteveMcsweeny/Getty Images

You’ll do anything — including dropping your hard-earned cash — to get rid of the nasty cough threatening to infect everyone you love and care about. The truth is, most brand-name, over-the-counter cough medications don’t actually do anything to relieve your symptoms. RIP, your lungs.

Next: Don’t lose sleep over how much these pills are costing you.

2. Sominex, and other over-the-counter sleep aids

Over-the-counter sleep aids really don’t do much. | iStock

You don’t want to bug your doctor about the insomnia you may or may not have, so you settle for a non-prescription sleep aid from your local drugstore. Will paying for a better night’s sleep actually make a difference? Experts say probably not. Most natural, free sleep remedies provide effective results.

Next: You probably don’t need this supplement as badly as you think.

3. Country Life Vitamin D3

Country Life Vitamin D3 | Amazon

People are terrified of becoming vitamin D deficient, convinced supplements will boost their energy and relieve their depression symptoms. They’re wasting their money. It’s worthless if you take it without calcium, for one thing. Vitamin D deficiency is also fairly uncommon. It’s unlikely you have one.

Next: Diet pills still keep plenty of people rich, but that’s our fault.

4. Meratrim, and other weight loss pills

Meratrim | Amazon

The U.S. weight loss market was worth over $60 billion in 2017. Pills, programs, and “diet foods” promise consumers slimmer figures in exchange for their life savings — and they willingly hand it over. Over-the-counter weight loss drugs usually don’t give you what you’re paying for. The easy way out probably isn’t worth your paycheck.

Next: This cold medication probably isn’t worth the trip to your local pharmacy.

5. Sudafed PE, and other drugs containing phenylephrine

Sudafed PE | Amazon

Some research has found that the decongestant agent found in over-the-counter brands like Sudafed PE doesn’t actually work. The FDA only allows so much of it in non-prescription versions of the drug, and at these levels, it apparently doesn’t have the effect it’s advertised to.

Next: Many people rely on vitamin and mineral supplements — but are they worth the high cost?

6. Nature Made calcium supplements

Nature Made calcium | Amazon

Thus far, research has done very little to prove that taking a pill to boost your calcium levels will keep your bones healthy and strong as you age. In fact, some studies actually warn against taking them, suggesting they might increase some individuals’ heart attack risk.

Next: Feel a cold coming on? Don’t spend your money on these supplements.

7. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C

Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C | Amazon

Should you pay to fill your blood with excess vitamin C? It’s what most people do when they’re trying to avoid getting sick during the winter, but it actually doesn’t protect you from the virus¬†that causes the common cold. You can definitely keep this one on the shelf.

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