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What Are Different Panadols For?

Are the different Panadols interchangeable?

Target specific conditions and ailments with the different types of Panadol around. By Linette Lai

panadol uses and differences

 

Panadol is a common pain reliever. Photo: ST File Photo

Touted as Singapore's favourite pain reliever by its manufacturer GSK, Panadol products are targeted at ailments ranging from menstrual cramps to the common cold. They range in price from around $6.50 per box of general-purpose, no-frills pills, to $9.80 for Panadol for coughs and colds - but how different are they really?

Earlier this month, the Australian Federal Court fined pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser A$1.7 million (S$1.69 million) for misleading customers. The company's line of Nurofen Specific Pain products were packaged in a way that suggested they were each formulated to treat a specific type of pain. However, the products were actually identical. Each one contained 342mg of ibuprofen lysine, a pain-killing drug.

(Also read: What not to drink with your medicine)

In contrast, most types of Panadol sold here contain around 500mg of paracetamol, another common painkiller, as well as extra ingredients that set products apart from one another, say the experts. For example, said Ms Jocelyn Yeo, a senior pharmacist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, the cough and cold formula contains ingredients to clear blocked noses and chest congestion. And Panadol Extra, which targets severe headaches, has an extra 65mg of caffeine added for better pain relief. These products contain different active ingredients, and hence the effects will be different, Ms Yeo said.

Just because these amounts seem small compared with the amount of paracetamol does not mean they are ineffective, said Professor Paul Ho from the pharmacy department in the National University of Singapore's science faculty. "Different drugs have different potencies, and these amounts are generally regarded to be effective," he said. "But sometimes, the benefit could be marginal."

The Health Sciences Authority told The Straits Times it assessed and classified different Panadol products by looking at the active ingredients in each product. "These ingredients are added to complement the effect of paracetamol to manage different medical conditions," a spokesman said.

Still, one could save a dollar or two by picking the right type of Panadol to suit one's needs. Said Prof Ho: "If you just want to relieve menstrual pain, the generic Panadol will do as well." (Also read: Relieve menstrual problems with these massages and herbs)

Correction note: An earlier version of this article identified a senior pharmacist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital as Ms Jocelyn Ling. Her surname should be Yeo. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Different Panadol for different aches?'.

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