Sick people are better off taking painkillers and going to bed than shelling out for expensive over-the-counter cold-and-flu remedies that make misleading claims about their efficacy, Consumer NZ says.
A survey by the organisation has found the country spent $38 million last year on remedies to fight winter bugs.
It looked at more than 50 cold and flu products, from decongestants and antihistamines through to cough drops, to see which offered the most effective relief.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said 60 percent of the products that claimed relief from flu symptoms were misleading.
"Products like Lemsip ... say they are a quick way to get effective relief from symptoms such headaches, bodyaches, blocked nose, fever and sore throats but there is no real evidence to back that up," she said.
Ms Chetwin said she was concerned that consumers were being duped into paying up to $30 for remedies that did not work.
"These products should be true to label and we don't believe that they are," she said.
She said people should not waste their money on expensive remedies when a painkiller and bed rest was just as effective.
"It would be just as good for you to buy paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen and take some honey and put your feet up" she said.
She has asked MedSafe to review the products.