How can you save money on over-the-counter medicine?

When you feel unwell but not sick enough to need a doctor, a pharmacy is often your first stop. You can get Schedule 0, 1 and 2 medicine without a doctor's prescription. We call this 'over-the-counter medicine'.

Your cover depends on the Pharmacy you chose

if you use a pharmacy in our Network your out-of-pocket expenses can be reduced. More than 90% of pharmacies in South Africa are part of our Network. Visit and look under Pharmacy Network where you will find a list of SABMAS Network Providers.

If you choose not to use a pharmacy in our network, you should shop around. Ask each pharmacy what their dispensing fee is (in short, how much they add to the cost of the medicine for giving it to you)
If you are on the SABMAS Comprehensive Option or the SABMAS Essential Option, it's important to keep in mind that the benefits you use for over-the-counter medicine add up to your benefit limits.

When the pharmacist dispenses medicine, feel free to ask if there's a less expensive generic or alternative. Pharmacists are qualified and required by law to substitute with alternatives, unless otherwise mentioned on your prescription.

Question any co-payments (amounts you have to pay from your own pocket) and find out the reason behind the co-payment - like Reference Pricing and dispensing fees.

Make sure you have benefits when you really need them

Here are three tips for making your benefits stretch further:

  • Choose generic
    Generic medicine has exactly the same active ingredients as the brand-name medicine. They just tend to be more affordable.
    The generic medicine in South Africa is safe because the South African Medicines Control Council oversees the approval of generic medicine. They require generic medicine to be of the same quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name medicine.

  • Choose a network pharmacy
    If you use a pharmacy in our network, you improve your chances of experiencing no co-payments. This means you're less likely to have to pay in for medicine and you save money. Visit

  • Ask the right questions
    Pharmacists do more than count pills and make up prescriptions. They can help you choose the right over-the-counter medicine too. Tell them about your symptoms and ask them to recommend medicine. They can tell you about the active ingredients and compare prices to help you make the right choice.

Log in