What Aspirin teaches about practical frugal living

Aspirin, once heralded as the great “wonder drug,” is a great thing to study from a practical frugal living perspective.

In the early 1800s European scientists learned that willow bark contains salicin, an extract useful for dulling headache pain.  Later that century, French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt combined salicylic acid with sodium to neutralize the substance into a form gentler for human consumption, and acetylsalicylic acid was born.  Still later that century, the German company Bayer trademarked and marketed the product as aspirin.

In the more than one century since, aspirin has enjoyed its ups and downs in popularity.  In the second half of the twentieth century, sales slowed with the development of ibuprofen, but aspirin has enjoyed renewed popularity over the last few decades as its stroke prevention properties have been promoted.  More and more studies even show aspirin to have cancer prevention qualities.

Aspirin is, in short, a wonderful, quality drug that belongs in just about any home’s medicine cabinet.

But for all its international history, benefits, and fanfare, a very basic reality remains: aspirin is aspirin.  It is plain old acetylsalicylic acid, no matter what name appears on the bottle.  Aspirin sold by your local grocery chain or drug store is just as effective at relieving headaches and thinning blood as any name brand version of the drug.

Once we realize this, we are well on the way to mastering another basic maxim of practical frugal living principle: buy generic whenever possible.  There is just no reason at all to shell out an additional three or four dollars for a name brand version of this wonderfully effective, but common, drug.

The same goes for ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, by the way.  Call it Motrin, Advil, or Eckerd’s store brand ibuprofen pain reliever – it’s all the same thing: 200 mg tablets of ibuprofen.  Once we appreciate this reality of popular pain relievers, it is quite easy to expand the money saving principle to virtually any medication that has outlived the original patent.

So save your money and buy generic versions whenever possible.  For no matter how you slice it, dice it, or market it, it is all the same thing.  Oh, and speaking of slicing and dicing, for those who wish to take a daily dose smaller than the standard 325 milligram tablet, just quarter the tablets and have at it.  Yes, this may not get you exactly 81 milligrams at a time, and, no, I am not a pharmacist or a doctor.  But from personal experience, I can safely report that I have broken and cut many an aspirin tablet and still enjoyed the intended medicinal effects.  So why shell out still another four bucks a bottle for those “baby size” tablets?

That’s not to say you should never buy a name brand version of aspirin.  But about the only time I will do so is when I have a $2.00 coupon for use at a store during a double the coupon face value promotion.  Beyond that, generics will do me – and you – just fine.

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One Response to What Aspirin teaches about practical frugal living

  1. jim says:

    Meta-analysis confirms that anymore than 81 milligrams presents no additional benefit from CVA’s but unless it”s enteric coated can cause bleeding and excoriation of the stomach lining. That said some people with aortic grafts may benefit from a 325 milligram enteric coated tablet once daily or for arthritis pain and yes, it’s got some anti-cancer properties.

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