28 Jul2007


“I want to learn to play a cello in my middle age. I want to learn how to make tinapa from scratch. I want to open a training center to improve local service levels. I want to invent a device that virtually slaps silly bus drivers who cross the yellow line on EDSA… I want to be complete…” – Marketman filmed in the shadows with a Panama hat hiding most of his face.

Does this kind of advertisement sound familiar? If you live in the Philippines and have been watching any local channels lately, you will have heard this type of advertisement for Centrum vitamins at least half a dozen times in the past month. And the one speaking, talking about their dreams in the ads, are personalities like Piolo Locsin, Angel Milby or Sam Pascual, or some other equally expensive artistas that are meant to convince average Filipinos that they should rush out to the nearest botica and buy some Centrum at outrageous prices. I have been taking vitamin supplements, yes, Centrum in particular, for the past 15 years. Despite eating a very varied diet of vegetables, fruit, grains and meats, I still think it is a good idea to load up on all those obscure vitamins and minerals just to be sure all the body parts are functioning as well as they can, you know what I mean? So what is my problem? PRICE ARBITRAGE or is it GOUGING, that’s what!?! If you buy a Centrum tablet, either by itself or by a dozen or so pieces from Mercury Drug, it costs well over PHP10 a piece! In fact, if I recall correctly, it can cost as much as PHP12 a piece. If you buy Centrum at S&R Price in the Fort, the cost is about PHP4.50 per tablet if you buy a bottle of 300 tablets. If you buy them at a warehouse club in the U.S. and schlep them back in your maletas, as I do every two years, you would pay as little as PHP3-3.50 per tablet! And they are EXACTLY the same vitamin tablet, made exactly the same way, with exactly the same ingredients! What possible reason can the distributors of Centrum in the Philippines give for charging nearly 350% more for exactly the same item? And why would anyone in their right mind pay PHP12 for a single dose of Centrum if you could get them for PHP4.50 in the same city over at S&R? I consider this somewhat outrageous really… Is this how much sway a bunch of actors/actresses have on the consuming public? Do people really believe what these high-priced endorsers are saying? Should I start a business buying in bulk at S&R and selling them tinggi-tinggi for PHP6 and make nearly PHP500 per bottle? Get real guys… for every year’s worth of Centrum you buy at a botica vs. the lowest retail source in Manila, you are paying a whopping PHP2,500 or so more for exactly the same thing… And I don’t work for S&R; and I have 2 years supply of Centrum in my cabinets, so feel free to go raid S&R now and wipe out their stocks! That way you will be complete, and wealthier at the same time…



  1. RobKSA says:

    Every year, centrum in bulk is part of my pasalubong. It also cost about 3.50 per piece here in Saudi but now it is about 4 pesos per piece but still a lot lower than our price there. As you know medicines cost a lot in our country and as long as some form of a medicine bill keeps hanging in our chamber of government nothing will happen to the cost of medicines in the Philippines. Of course there are other things that are expensive in the Philippines, electric bill, etc. but that is a different topic…

    Jul 28, 2007 | 2:40 pm


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  3. jim says:

    Buy the generic multivitamins instead. It has the same amount of vitamins and minerals as the more expensive branded ones.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 3:05 pm

  4. tulip says:

    My family also uses Centrum and Kirkland. Are those purchased locally by “tingi” comes from those big bottles? Are the tablets just placed in a small plastic/paper bag? ‘Cause I remember I had the same question, when some friends would make “pakisuyo” to buy them some bottles since its cheaper abroad…why the price is tripled?
    Someone told me it must be because the large bottles are opened and indefinitely stored until all the content are sold. There is a risk that the tablets though not expired, are discolored and unsuitable for the drugstore to sell daw. I dont know, I take vitamins everyday thus open the bottle everyday until i consume all 300 tablets..no discoloration.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 3:46 pm

  5. allen says:

    Too complete you have to pay extra hehe

    Jul 28, 2007 | 4:02 pm

  6. Em Dy says:

    What struck me most about your post is what you still want to do. Oo nga naman. Sometimes, we need to take stock of what we have so far and what we’ve been missing. It’s time to think of my own list.

    Thanks for the tip. I occasionally take vitamins too.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 5:03 pm

  7. millet says:

    hahahaha…you have an outrageously hilariously accurate way with words, MM.. i don’t know of any other way to put it!

    Jul 28, 2007 | 7:21 pm

  8. Apicio says:

    Better living through chemicals. Most profitable idea the pharmaceutical industry ever conjured up and foisted on us. Take daily to forestall sickness. Apply nightly to postpone ugliness. They and the beauty industry took it from the most venerable of practitioners. Indulgences they scared poor medieval souls into paying good money for to mitigate if not elude eternal damnation. As Luther to Rizal inveighed against and as what controlled studies of vitamin suppliments (particularly of C and E) are uncovering now about their doubtful efficacy, it was after all just (papal) bull.

    You initial vignette is so fetching.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 7:48 pm

  9. Tinsi says:

    Hello All, when my relatives and friends ask me what I want for pasalubong I always ask for the Members Mark ADVANCED MULTIVITAMINS – I think this is sold at Costco or Sams If you compare this versus Centrum or Centrum advanced you’ll note that it is PACKED with more than what Centrum delivers . I base my supplement intake (as consistently as I can) on the recommendations made by Dr. Weir in his book and an article I once read in Newsweek.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 7:58 pm

  10. elaine says:

    It’s the high cost of advertising! It’s all marketing, maybe it’s the masa’s gullibility(if there’s such a word…)that these multinationals bank on…wala pa yung mga top stars who get paid 30M for a 3 day shoot(an advtg exec filled me in on this)…Anyway,my brother just supplies my folks with kirkland which he prefers getting at Target. But you’re right MM, it pays to get it at S&R(if you’re not travelling), it’s a LOT cheaper.

    Jul 28, 2007 | 10:39 pm

  11. Maddie says:

    Ooooh! I love the customer service training center! Hope you get to do that! And I’ll join you in procuring a slapping device that you can hook to the side of your car for those bus drivers! I am just about to write a letter to our friendly MMDA chair about them lovely drivers on EDSA who seem to be in cahoots with the MMDA traffic enforcement officers who turn a blind eye on their transgressions. But that’s Off-topic from this post.

    I buy an even more expensive brand, Pharmaton. I’ve been planning to go to S&R for last month or so.

    I must go to S&R soon!
    I must go to S&R soon!
    I must go to S&R soon!
    I must go to S&R soon!

    Jul 29, 2007 | 1:27 am

  12. Cherrie says:

    In the UK they are also expensive. 1 bottle of 100 tablets costs £11.29 but if you buy 3 you pay for 2 bottles only… or it’s buy 2 take one free. I know that in the states they are very cheap. When we were there on holiday we also bought a few bottles.

    Jul 29, 2007 | 2:22 am

  13. Maria Clara says:

    Very much a firm believer in the power of vitamin supplements which are bursting with disease-fighting antioxidants as well as vitamins, minerals and other health protecting ingredients to prevent diseases like beri-beri and tuberculosis! Like you I get them at warehouse membership places where I pay for a wholesale price without making a dent on my pocketbook. Why pay for retail price when you can it wholesale? I will never never buy them from a pyramid sales like the Tupperware concept thing. The only logical reason I could think of why the price is so exorbitant there is the high cost of marketing them to the masa – how to get Centrum to every household. So they commissioned the services of these actors who have their own throng of fans to endorse their product. The manufacturer spends a lot of money in marketing via television/radio, internet, billboard ads, printed material advertising – newspaper and magazine. No manufacturer’s money allocated in research and development since the product is already out in the stream of commerce.

    Jul 29, 2007 | 5:17 am

  14. Swimgreen says:

    i would 1. stop supporting this unethical company and 2. go organic for supplements if only needed.

    Jul 29, 2007 | 6:12 am

  15. choy says:

    try asking doctors who finances their regular out of town or out of the country trips, complete with every accoutrement you can think of. rounds of golf, yachting, non-stop partying, etc. and with family members yet! (unless the good doc prefers to be supplied “companionship”, which can also be arranged). then we can easily deduce why medicines are so expensive hereabouts. yup! it’s them thar pharmaceutical firms.

    better yet don’t ask the doctors themselves, they’re bound to lie through their teeth. ask the med reps. they know. and they’ll tell.

    Jul 29, 2007 | 10:38 am

  16. butsoy says:

    actually the supplements from one tablet of centrum is not enough to keep us healthy even if you take it every day. One needs more zinc, magnesium,folic acid, vit. d etc. even if it says RDA in the bottle, the actual contents are very small in amount. I would rather spend my money on flaxseed oil caps,fish oil, glucosamine tabs or even a glass of red wine everyday, or eatmangosteen for antioxidants and maintence of healthy organs, instead of buying centrum that doesn’t do a damn thing about your health! and to Maria Clara, vitamins will not prevent tuberculosis!it is caused by BACTERIA !

    Jul 29, 2007 | 11:53 am

  17. RobKSA says:

    Choy, I just asked my wife who is a doctor about what you just said and she says yes its true. All their conferences including planes tickets, accomodations, meals and what not are borne by the pharmaceuticals. Also, I just read in the news that the pharmies is having a 1 billion-peso lobby money so that the cheap medicine bill will not see the light of day!

    Jul 29, 2007 | 12:25 pm

  18. MegaMom says:

    Not all pharmaceuticals are the same, in terms of their practices re: providing gifts to doctors, lobbying etc. For nutritional supplements such as this one, no money is spent towards R&D not because it’s already in the market, but because for supplements (unlike for drugs) it is not a requirement of law. However incredible amount of money is spent by big name pharma to ensure consistent quality. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and if you ask me it must be a required expense. Have you not all heard of poor quality, and even dangerous foodstuff and generic drugs coming out of China? I would rather take name brand antibiotics because I know that when they say 500 mg of amoxicillin is in the cap, there IS 500 mg of amoxicillin in there. Try taking some generic brands: you will not smell the antibiotic in the urine, because I suspect that they are not full-strength. This can be unsafe as it will not cure you of your infection, and it can result in bacterial resistance.
    I believe and stand by the Generic Law, but I think our government needs to have the mechanisms in place to ensure the safety and efficacy of generic products.
    Re: the issue of Centrum that MM just presented, let us not take focus out of the fact that in Mercury it is 10P++ and in S&R it is 4P++. I think the problem has nothing to do with pharma and their advertising: the problem is the drug stores!!!

    Jul 29, 2007 | 3:26 pm

  19. CecileJ says:

    Beg to disagree with MegaMom. Drugstores just add their profit margin. So if they get Centrum at a high price, then their selling price also increases. It really is the pharmas that jack up costs due to advertising and “wining and dining expenses”. It’s an old story but something must be done.

    Taking away their market (i.e., buying alternative or less costly) drugs is a start… (Of course, one mustn’t compromise quality for cost) But in the case of vitamins, sometimes just eating properly will get you enough vitamins…and looking for cheaper sources of the same vitamin (S & R vs Mercury, i.e.)will work woners for your health and your pocket!

    Jul 30, 2007 | 8:39 am

  20. andie says:

    hmm, i never really thought about the prices of my vitamins. i actually take pharmaton because i notice that i have more energy throughout the day and can focus on work better. (FYI, i don’t work for pharmaton). i’ve been paying around 19 per capsule… never actually realized that its way more expensive than other brands. although the fact that i notice its working is good enough reason for me.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 10:32 am

  21. lee says:

    I am complete. So complete I’m a good 50 pounds above “their” limits. So complete my blood pressure and blood sugar overflows. I want to be a Centrum Endorser too!

    Jul 30, 2007 | 11:20 am

  22. maria says:

    just read the headlines today… one of them reveals that the drug companies have spent p1 billion already trying to kill the bill for cheaper medicines.

    i’ll just buy the fruits and veggies instead.

    but first, i gotta quit smoking. hi mr. lucio tan! thanks for giving super affordable ciggies! : )

    Jul 30, 2007 | 11:27 am

  23. acidboy says:

    the medicine manufacturers here are worse than any “sin” product manufacturer in this country! They know they are pricing their products sky high here compared to other countries, yet they block all efforts to bring in cheaper medicines, sometimes even their own products, here because it ruins their bottom line! Now, profiting and putting back the investments in R&D is one thing, but this is outright robbery! And add the fact that the people who are really affected by this are the economically-challenged. Lives are directly affected by their greed, and yet they still go at it. Hell has a place for this kind of people.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 4:57 pm

  24. pinky says:

    I never realized why my aunt from the US always keeps sending Centrum in her balikbayan box.. mas mura pala dun. tsk tsk tsk

    If you have a balanced diet, enough sleep, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, who needs vitamins? I am complete. I don’t need a pill. :D

    Jul 30, 2007 | 8:38 pm

  25. connie says:

    My relatives back home always ask for Centrum in their balikbayan boxes. I never understood that. Sometimes I get Centrum but most of the time I send them the Member’s Mark multi-vitamins from Sam’s Club which have the same if not more minerals and vitamins versus Centrum, on a much cheaper price. Now with post, I somewhat understand why, because Centrum is more aggressive with their marketing in the Philippines. Here, we rarely see TV adverts on Centrum, however Cialis and Viagra spend more top dollars on their adverts that those multi-vitamins companies. Go figure. LOL.
    Thanks for this eyerolling post. Do not however get me started on drug companies and their lobbyists, especially here in the US. They are totally a different breed.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:11 am

  26. butch says:

    Hi. Can I ask the complete address of S&R? Hehe. Just moved here in manila. hehehe

    Aug 16, 2007 | 12:15 am

  27. Marketman says:

    butch, they have several branches, but these Centrum here are available at the Fort Bonifacio branch of S&R Price. They have branches in Alabang and QC I think.

    Aug 16, 2007 | 7:42 am

  28. ann says:

    do you guys know some drugstores aside from S&R in Fort Bonifacio that sell centrum already in a bottle? I’ve been having some hard time calling in different malls and inquire but all of them just sell centrum in pieces… please help me… my dad’s asked me the same question to the nth time in a day. i live in quezon city and if by chance you know where i can get one, please lemme know :) please send me an e-mail at ann10alonte@yahoo.com. thank you so much!!!!

    Oct 6, 2007 | 4:23 pm

  29. ellinor n. Cristobal says:

    hello, paano po ako makakabili sa inyo, i need it very badly how much po yung 180 tabs. na nasa bottles… pls. reply me back as soon as possible. I need it this coming saturday, where will i find your place? thanks….

    Jan 9, 2008 | 9:54 am

  30. Marketman says:

    ellinor, did you even BOTHER to READ the post? I don’t sell anything. Please read the post before you write a comment. Thanks.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 10:02 am

  31. Nicely says:

    do u know tha exact address of S&R in Alabang? I need to buy something kasi na doon lang pinakamalapit para sa akin. That is, if you only know… Thanks!

    Oct 13, 2008 | 4:50 pm

  32. Lilymae Uy says:

    Ako ay may maliit na tindahan ng supplements naghahanap po ako kung saan makakabili ng mga Kirkland products pati Centrum sa murang halaga lamang dahil akin ding ititinda. Saan po ako makakabili?

    Mar 20, 2009 | 10:51 pm

  33. Lilymae Uy says:

    ano po ang complete address ng S&R in Quezon City? Ano ang website nila or email add?

    Mar 20, 2009 | 10:57 pm

  34. Bert Yumul says:

    Sa Cash & Carry (2nd flr.) sa Makati City, Buendia cor South Expressway. Maraming nagtitinda ng Kirkland at Centrum. Check nyo muna yung prices then tumawad kayo to get the best deal.

    Mar 29, 2009 | 7:46 pm

  35. Jane says:

    Hi Megamom! Are you working in a pharmaceutical company? or are you the Megastar who is the mom of 3 girls? :)

    Apr 13, 2009 | 10:22 pm

  36. Gabe Selvio says:

    Ms Lilymae Uy, i only carry kirkland fishoil 400softgel bottle
    i can give you special wholesale price specially if ibebenta mo pa ito. can reach me at 09086316394 thanks

    Jun 26, 2009 | 7:02 am


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