Movicol Alternatives - summary of cheaper osmotic laxatives

4 Best Movicol Alternatives

Movicol is a popular medicine used for the treatment of constipation and faecal impaction. Movicol is commonly prescribed but can also be purchased from a pharmacy. When it comes to pricing, Movicol is one of the most expensive options in the category of osmotic laxatives. This post summarises Movicol alternatives –  products, which belong to the same class of osmotic laxatives. All alternative products reviewed in this post are cheaper than Movicol. All prices are calculated on the basis of wholesalers costs + standard pharmacy markup cost. 

In this post: 

  • What is constipation?
  • What is Movicol? 
  • How does Movicol work? 
  • Movicol alternatives: cheaper osmotic laxatives 
  • What other laxatives can be purchased over the counter? 

What is constipation? 

Constipation can be defined as difficulty in the passing of stools which may be dry/hard, less often than the person’s usual pattern. 

What is Movicol? 

Movicol is classified as an osmotic laxative, which is used to treat constipation (finding it hard to empty your bowels) and faecal impaction (caused by a stool which cannot be passed out of the rectum). Movicol comes in a form of powder (sachets), which is mixed with water before taking. Movicol is also available in liquid form as 500ml bottles and ready to take 25ml oral solution sachets. Movicol is available in three different flavours: 

  • Plain 
  • Lemon and         
  • Chocolate 

How does Movicol work? 

Osmotic laxatives increase the flow of water into the bowel and thus making stools softer together with the increase of their volume. Osmotic laxatives may take 1-3 days to work. 

Active ingredients found in Movicol: 

  • Macrogol 3350 (responsible for laxative effect)

Electrolytes (contribute to the movement of water into the colon): 

  • Sodium chloride 
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Potassium chloride

Can you buy Movicol over the counter (without a prescription)? 

Movicol is classified as pharmacy-only medicine (P) and can be purchased from the pharmacy. Pharmacy-only medicines are kept behind the pharmacy counter, usually in the dispensary. 

Movicol is also available in the paediatric form. The paediatric form of Movicol is classified as a prescription-only medicine, therefore it needs to be prescribed by a doctor or another qualified prescriber.  

How much does Movicol cost? 

Customers may be expected to pay around £14 for a box of Movicol containing 30 sachets. Prices may vary between pharmacies. 

Movicol alternatives: cheaper osmotic laxatives 

  1. CosmoCol 

CosmoCol - cheap movicol alternative comes in different flavours

CosmoCol is one of the most popular Movicol alternative osmotic laxatives. CosmoCol has the same active ingredients as Movicol: 

  • Macrogol 3350
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Bicarbonate
  • Potassium 

Like Movicol, CosmoCol is classified as a pharmacy-only medication. CosmoCol is available in a range of flavours and Plain form: 

  • CosmoCol Orange Lemon and Lime
  • CosmoCol Orange
  • CosmoCol Lemon and Lime Flavour

How much does CosmoCol cost? 

CosmoCol is much cheaper than Movicol. With a standard markup, one would expect to pay around £7 for a box of 30 sachets. 

2. Laxido as alternative to Movicol 

Laxido - popular osmotic laxative

Laxido is another option for customers who are looking for a cheaper alternative to Movicol. Laxido’s main active ingredients are the same as Movicols. Laxido is available in orange flavour. Laxido is a pharmacy-only medication, kept away from the public (not available for self-selection), usually in the dispensary. 

How much does Laxido cost? 

Laxido is much cheaper than Movicol. Laxido price is similar to CocmoCol. One should expect to pay between £7-£8 for a box of 30 Laxido sachets. 

3. Molaxole powder for oral solution 

Molaxone - macrogol containing osmotic laxative

The third option on the list, Molaxole has the same combination of active ingredients as Movicol. Molaxole comes in the same form as previously discussed laxatives. Malazole comes only in one flavour – lemon. Molaxole is less commonly dispensed by pharmacies, therefore it may not be part of the regular dispensing stock. 

Molaxole is a pharmacy-only medication. 

How much does Molaxole cost? 

Malaxole is slightly more expensive than CosmoCol or Laxido, but still cheaper than Movicol. A box of 30 sachets costs around £9.50

4. Generic Macrogol

The last option for Movicol alternative laxative, which has the same combination of active ingredients is ‘generic’ macrogol. One product called Compound Macrogol Oral Powder Sugar Free produced by Galen Limited is available as pharmacy-only medication. This preparation is less commonly stocked by pharmacies, therefore may not be readily available. 

How much Macrogol (Galen Limited) cost?

Macrogol (Galen Limited) has a similar price to CosmoCol and Laxidido. One would be expected to pay around £7.50 for a box of 30 sachets.

Movicol vs Movicol alternatives: what is the best option? 

Many customers request Movicol as a laxative of choice, usually under the recommendation from a GP or another healthcare professional. It is clear that Movicol is the most expensive osmotic laxative. All osmotic laxatives discussed in this post have the same combination of active ingredients, therefore should produce the same effect. What may be different is the taste difference between Movicol and other alternative laxatives. 

Which laxative works faster than Movicol?

Laxatives which come in a form of suppositories (for example glycerin or bisacodyl suppositories) tend to work the fastest. Once administered, suppositories produce their effect in about 10-30 mins

What other laxatives can be purchased over the counter? 

Generally, a wide selection of laxatives can be purchased over the counter from pharmacies. Many laxatives are available for the public to select off the shelf, some of them may be kept behind a pharmacy counter. Some laxatives may not be suitable for everyone, or to treat all types of constipation. For example, a common cause of constipation is the use of opioids (prescribed or over the counter), such as codeine. Constipation caused by the use of opioids should not be treated with bulk-forming laxatives.

Popular laxatives available over the counter: 

  • Stimulant laxatives, for example, bisacodyl, senna tablets or glycerin suppositories.   
  • Other osmotic laxatives: Lactulose
  • Bulk-forming laxatives, for example, ispaghula husk (Fybogel)
  • Faecal softeners, for example, docusate sodium available in form of capsules or an oral solution. 

Changes to diet and lifestyle can successfully help with the symptoms of constipation. Increasing intake of fibre (fruit vegetables) and fluids is one of the main recommendations in helping to relieve constipation. Learn more at the NHS website

Speak to the pharmacist to get the best advice on the management of constipation. 

Is macrogol and MOVICOL the same?

Movicol is a brand name of laxative which contains macrogol as one of active ingredients, thus macrogol one case say both are the same.

Is Fybogel the same as MOVICOL?

Fybogel and Movicol are not the same. Although both are classified as laxatives (products which relieve consipation), Fybogel is classified a bulk forming laxative (adds fibre and increase faecal mass), whereas Movicol is classified as osmotic laxative (increase water in the colon).

Is it OK to take Movicol everyday?

Prolonged use of all laxatives is usually not recommended. As per product information, treamen with Movicol should not normally exceed 2 weeks. Treatment can be repeated, when required. In practice, when prescribed, Movicol can be used for longer than two weeks, only under supervision of a doctor.


I am a qualified pharmacist working in an independent pharmacy in the UK.
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