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Of the three major types of over-the-counter painkillers -- aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol -- the last is the one I use by far the most. This is in part because it is generally the safest for people with diabetes, on account of its lack of significant side effects. (Ibuprofen, by contrast, can cause problems for those with impaired kidney function, a common complication of diabetes.) Of course you should always be guided by medical professionals, and take account of any other medicines you might be taking at the time, but if you're standing in Boots with a headache, paracetamol is likely to be your best bet.
The odd thing about paracetamol, though, is that it's simultaneously one of the safest drugs available *and* one of the most potentially dangerous. This is because it has what is known as a narrow therapeutic index -- in plain English, this means that the multiple of an effective dose which becomes a dangerous dose is quite low. This is the reason that most shops will not let you buy more than two 16-caplet packs at once: even those 32 pills, despite being just four times the maximum stated does, could be fatal in certain cases. And you really, *really* don't want to die from paracetamol overdose: delayed liver failure is a slow and painful way to go.
Okay, that's enough scary stuff, so let's get on to the packaging. As befits the cheapest brand of paracetamol on Boots' shelves, the box is exceptionally boring, with a couple of red flashes being all that relieves the otherwise monochrome packet. But who cares about that, really? If I saw a design full of lurid colours and jaunty designs when I had a horrible headache (or indeed one of the other problems for which paracetamol is suggested, such as toothaches and sore throats) then I suspect I'd just think "Argh, my eyes need a rest from all this icky muck!" The plain black on white of the rear text is certainly a relief, and the language used is simple and plain. Of course, there's still the Braille text as well, which I think all medicines now have.
Open up the box, and inside you'll find the expected couple of foil sheets, into each of which is packed eight caplets. The cheapness of this brand is slightly in evidence here, in that the pills don't pop out absolutely effortlessly when you press them, but it really isn't a big problem. You'll see printed on the foil that these things are made by Galpharm, a name you may well have come across before as they seem to be responsible for most of the unbranded/cheapo painkillers on the market! I've never had any problems with Galpharm medicines, so I find it quite reassuring to read their name here.
Caplets are a sort of middle ground, their oval shape making them easier to swallow than traditional large, round tablets; but without the smooth coating that makes the slightly more expensive capsules so easy to take. I don't have much trouble with any type, but there's no doubt that the Value Health caplets *do* slip down your throat a little more easily than basic tablets. And then all you can do is wait... generally I find that 10-15 minutes is enough for pain relief to begin, though that does vary a bit depending on the usual factors -- whether you're very tired, whether you have something else to think about, etc.
The main attraction of this brand (or "un-brand") is its low price: a mere 16p for 16 caplets makes this among the cheapest painkillers on the market. Older children (over six) can be given paracetamol, too, which is a very useful advantage over the likes of aspirin. All in all, it's very hard to complain about Boots Value Health Paracetamol Caplets, and though they won't help that much with really severe pain (for which you should ask a professional for advice) the everyday aches that we all suffer from every so often are relieved enough that the price looks a bargain. Recommended.
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