Walmart customer shows Zyrtec is $42, but the generic brand is $6

A young woman shopping for Zyrtec at Walmart learned a little about how the world works as she went through the process of comparing the brand name allergy medicine to its generic Walmart brand counterpart.

The customer, Kat (@kat.inmytwenties), shared her journey in a TikTok post on May 27, which has since received more than 90,000 views and nearly 1,500 likes. In it, the creator documents her trip to Walmart, asking questions that commenters were more than happy to answer.

“So I’m at Walmart, right?” she begins. “And I need Zyrtec, except the brand of Zyrtec is $42, but you get 60 pills.” She then cuts to her appearance on the Walmart shelf, with a total price of $42.97 and a unit price of 71.6 cents, information she crucially avoids a little later in the video.

Then she wonders, “But then the generic brand is only $6 and you get 14 tablets. Like, what’s the best deal?”

The video gives the briefest of flashes for a price for the generic drug sold under Walmart’s Equate brand, reading $5.62 with a unit price of 40.1 cents, making it clear which is the best deal.

“I don’t want to spend $42 on Zyrtec, but the generic brand scares me,” she notes. “It says it compares to Zyrtec, but how does it compare? Like, why doesn’t it just say Zyrtec?”

Why isn’t it just called generic Zyrtec?

The answer to Kat’s last question lies in the difference between the brand name of a drug and the generic name of its active ingredient. According to an IP Watchdog article that takes a deep dive into the issue, “In the United States, generic names must be approved by the United States Council on Approved Names (USAN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) INN Program ).While chemical and generic names may be available for use by others in the industry, the brand name under which the new drug is marketed is usually unique and exclusive to the brand owner.

This means that while multiple companies can sell and market cetirizine as an allergy antihistamine, only Johnson & Johnson can market the drug under the name Zyrtec.

@kat.inmytwenties What is the difference between generic and common brand #fyp #zyrtec original sound – kat.inmytwenties

Do they work the same?

GoodRx claims that generic drugs are just as effective as brand-name versions that consumers are familiar with. “Generic drugs are as effective as brand-name drugs,” the site says. “According to the FDA, drug manufacturers must prove that generic drugs can be substituted for brand-name drugs and provide the same benefits as their brand-name counterparts. In other words, in many cases, you can switch a generic drug for a brand name. – name one and get the same effect.”

Commenters provided unquoted information to assist the creator.

“Off mark is usually the way to go for most items,” wrote one.

Another said, “Zyrtec is more expensive before you pay for the name, read the ingredients if they are the same, buy generic.”

One commenter even claimed, without evidence, “They’re made in the same factory. The same ingredients. One is simply paying more for marketing and shelf space.”

Someone else claimed, “Some inactive ingredients can cancel out the actives. They’re cheaper to make, it’s the inactives that make the difference and why one works better than the other.”

But another commenter disputed this, saying, “Wronggggg. Generics go through an intensive testing process by the FDA to test effectiveness before they are approved for the market.

Finally, one viewer said: “Please tell me this is a bit.”

The Daily Dot reached out to the creator via TikTok direct message and to Walmart via email.

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Phil West

Phil West is a veteran professional writer and editor and the author of two soccer books, United States Soccer and I Believe We Will Win, both from The Overlook Press. His work has recently appeared in The Striker (where he served as managing editor), MLSSoccer.com, Next City, and Texas Highways. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Phil West


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