As you can see, all three of these contain different ingredients depending on whether or not your primary focus is treating allergy symptoms and a cold or maybe just sinus related issues. But I'm sure each one of these brands can be used interchangeably to some degree if you are experiencing a bit of everything. In that regard, they are similar because they have similar ingredients used for a similar purpose; but no they are not exactly alike and shouldn't be treated the same.
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A month of trying different meds & research and here is what I found: (Here is my 2nd solution)
(Beware Canada brand names do not always carry same ingredient list as same brand names in other contries: ie Brand X in USA and Canada may contain different ingredient list. )
I live in Canada so I checked the DIN (drug id no) of some old stock of Actifed to ensure combination of drugs used in Actifed. Actifed in Canada = DIN 02238302= Triprolidine hydrochloride 2.5 mg and Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 60 mg.
Novo- Pheniram (Target brand) is composed of Chlorpheiramine maleate. (4 mg) "Chlorphenamine is part of a series of antihistamines ..... (its) derivatives and others .... dipheniramine (also known as triprolidine with the trade name Actifed)..."
I have been trying different meds in combination to try to mimic Actifed.. and low and behold.. Novo-Pheniram + Aerious or ENTREX (Guardian brand) . ENTREX & Areius contain Pseudoephedine (120 mg) . So I dug some more and then I found that triprolidine (a.k.a dipheniramine) derivative = Chlorphenamine. (Case solved for me).
Co-Actifed is available in Canada by prescription and contains Actifed 's ingredients + Codeine (more codeine than Tylenol-2's).