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

@kat.inmytwenties/TikTok Sundry Photography/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘What is the difference?’: Walmart customer shows Zyrtec is $42 but generic brand is $6

‘I don’t want to spend $42 on Zyrtec, except the generic brand kind of scares me.’


Phil West


A young woman shopping for Zyrtec at Walmart learned a little bit about how the world works while going through the process of comparing the brand-name allergy medicine to its Walmart-branded generic counterpart.

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

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

She then wonders, “But then the generic brand is only $6, and you get 14 tablets. Like, what is the better deal?”

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

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

Why isn’t the generic just called Zyrtec?

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

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

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

Do they work the same?

GoodRx maintains that generic drugs are just as effective as the brand-name versions consumers often know. “Generic medications are just as effective as brand-name drugs,” the site says. “According to the FDA, drug makers must prove that generic medications can be substituted for brand-name drugs and offer the same benefits as their brand-name counterparts. In other words, in many cases, you can swap a generic drug for a brand-name one and get the same effect.”

Commenters offered uncited info to help the creator along.

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

Another said, “Zyrtec more expensive bc ur paying for the name, cross read the ingredients if they’re the same, buy generic.”

One commenter even asserted, without proof, “They’re made at the same factory. Same ingredients. One is just paying more for marketing & shelf space.”

Someone else claimed, “Some inactive ingredients can nullify the actives. They’re produced cheaper, it’s the inactive that are the difference and why one works better than the other.”

But another commenter pushed back on that, saying, “Wronggggg. Generics go through an intensive testing process by the fda to test for effectiveness before being approved for the market.”

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

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

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