30 Most Commonly Prescribed Pediatric Medications

Most Prescribed Drugs for Kids and Teens

We routinely see lists of the 10 most prescribed drugs and 10 best selling drugs for adults each year, but what about for children and teens? Of course, there is a list for that too.

A quick review of the list can help you to understand the medicines that your own kids might be commonly prescribed by your pediatrician, and how much they might cost. Not surprisingly, antibiotics top the list.


Boy holding red pills and glass of water
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It shouldn't be surprising that the most commonly prescribed medications for children, as amoxicillin, or Amoxil, is very inexpensive (generic), is usually well tolerated, and can treat strep throat and many kids with pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections, etc., especially when used at high-dose levels.

How inexpensive is amoxicillin? A single course of the oral suspension or 500mg capsules is only $4 at many pharmacies.


Another antibiotic, azithromycin (Zithromax) is also available as a generic and has the convenience of being just once a day for five days, three days (ear infections), or even just one dose (ear infections).

The price for azithromycin oral suspension is generally about $35 to $45. A z-pak, 5 days of azithromycin pills, is about $30 to $50.


A child receiving a nebulizer treatment
A child receiving a nebulizer treatment. Photo by Lisa Eastman

The first drug on the list that isn't an antibiotic, albuterol is a bronchodilator that is used to relieve asthma symptoms. It is available in a form for a nebulizer and as a metered dose inhaler (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA, etc.). The syrup form of albuterol is very rarely used by most pediatricians.

Albuterol nebulizer solution is another of those inexpensive medications that you can often get for just $4 in many pharmacies. Albuterol asthma inhalers are more expensive, from $50 to $60. There is a Ventolin HFA inhaler with only 60 actuations (vs 200 in most other inhalers) that is less expensive though - about $21.


Augmentin (Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid) combines amoxicillin with the β-lactamase inhibitor potassium clavulanate to help it overcome resistant bacteria. It is commonly used to treat ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, infected bites and oral infections. High-dose Augmentin (Augmentin ES) is also available to help treat resistant Strep pneumo infections.

A bottle of generic Augmentin ES suspension costs about $60 to $90. Generic Augmentin 875 tablets cost about $26 to $38.


Cefdinir (Omnicef) is a broad spectrum third generation cephalosporin that is commonly used to treat sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. Cefdinir is not usually considered to be a first-line treatment though.

In general, cefdinir is a little more expensive than some other antibiotics. The generic oral suspension costs about $130 to $160. Cefdinir capsules typically cost between $44 and $66.


Unlike many of the other antibiotics on this list, cephalexin (Keflex), has a more narrow range of action, treating strep throat, skin infections (cellulitis and impetigo), and bone and joint infections, etc. It is a first generation cephalosporin.

Generic Keflex capsules are often just $4. The generic oral suspension form of Keflex might cost between $21 and $31.


Fluticasone is a steroid that is the main ingredient in many different medications, including Flonase nasal spray (generic), Flovent MDI, Cutivate cream and ointment (generic), and Veramyst nasal spray. Depending on the formulation, it can be used to treat kids with eczema, allergies, and/or asthma, etc.

Generic Flonase is now over-the-counter and is one of the less expensive prescription nasal allergy medications.

Prednisolone sodium phosphate

Available in both a 25mg/5ml and 15mg/5ml syrup, prednisolone is a liquid steroid that is commonly used to treat flare-ups of asthma, poison ivy reactions, croup, and other corticosteroid-responsive disorders.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation in children. Although available over-the-counter (Motrin and Advil), prescription strength formulations of ibuprofen are also available.


Montelukast (Singulair) is a leukotriene receptor antagonist and is approved to prevent and treat asthma, prevent exercise-induced asthma, and relieve symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis and perennial allergic rhinitis. It is now available as a generic.


Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim or Septra) is an older antibiotic that is most commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, except when resistance might be a problem. It is also being used more often now to treat methicillin-resistant staph aureus infections (MRSA).

Codeine phosphate/acetaminophen

A narcotic pain reliever with Tylenol (acetaminophen). The FDA warns that codeine should only be used when the benefits will outweigh the risks, which can include unusual sleepiness, confusion, shallow breathing, and other signs of morphine overdose.

Hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen

A narcotic pain reliever with Tylenol (acetaminophen) that is more potent than codeine.


Mupirocin (Bactroban) is a topical antibiotic that is often prescribed to treat bacterial skin infections, such as impetigo. Although both mupirocin cream and ointment are both available as generics, mupirocin ointment is considerably less expensive than the cream.


Most parents are familiar with Nystatin, an antifungal medication that is used to treat yeast infections, including thrush and candidal diaper rashes.


Methylphenidate is the generic name for a class of stimulants that are used to treat children with ADHD, and which include Ritalin (generic), Concerta (generic), Daytrana, Methylin, and Metadate, etc.

Prices for methylphenidate products can vary from $30 to $50 for generic, twice a day Ritalin and $185 to $211 for generic, once a day Concerta, to up to $300 for 30 Daytrana patches.

Get a Daytrana coupon.


A combination cough and cold medication, with a cough suppressant, decongestant, and an antihistamine. While this seems like a popular combination cold medicine, it is important to remember that experts warn against using these types of cough and cold medicines in children under age 4 to 6 years. Many also warn against using such combination medicines, instead recommending that you use cold medicines that target your child's symptoms in age-appropriate children. For example, don't use a combination cough and cold syrup if your child just needs a decongestant.


Mometasone is that active ingredient in Nasonex nasal spray, Elocon cream and ointment (generic), and the Asmanex Twisthaler.

While topical Elocon is generic and costs just $63 to 77, Nasonex nasal spray can cost up to $200 per prescription, and Asmanex Twisthaler is typically over $200.

Get a Nasonex coupon or an Asmanex coupon.


Another steroid, triamcinolone is the active ingredient in Nasacort AQ nasal spray (generic) and triamcinolone acetonide cream and ointment (generics).

Triamcinolone acetonide cream (TAC) is one of the least expensive medications to treat eczema flares and other skin rashes, at just $4 at many pharmacies.

Nasacort nasal spray is available as a generic and is now over-the-counter.


Prednisone is used to treat a number of corticosteroid-responsive disorders in children. It is probably most commonly used in small dosages for short periods of time to treat asthma flares, poison ivy reactions, and croup, etc.

Sodium fluoride

Without healthy teeth habits, your kids may end up with fillings and crowns at an early age.
If you don't practice healthy teeth habits, your kids may end up with fillings and crowns at an early age, even before they get rid of all of their baby teeth. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

For infants and children who have access to fluoridated tap water, fluoride supplements can be an important way to keep their teeth healthy and prevent dental caries.

Multivitamins with fluoride

In addition to fluoride supplements, when necessary, children can take a multivitamin with fluoride. In addition to fluoride, these usually include Vitamin A, D, and C, and sometimes iron.


Adderall and Adderall XR are the brand names for this class of stimulants that are used to treat ADHD.

Generic versions of intermediate release Adderall ($80 to $95) and extended release Adderall XR ($175 to $183) are available.


Hydrocortisone is a low-potency topical steroid that is available as an ointment, cream, lotion, gel, and in other forms.


A child using a Pulmicort Turbuhaler.
A child using a Pulmicort Turbuhaler. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

A steroid that is available as Pulmicort Respules (generic), Pulmicort Flexhaler, and Rhinocort  nasal spray.

Rhinocort nasal spray typically is now available over-the-counter.


Ciprodex is the brand name for this combination of an antibiotic with a steroid that is often used to treat swimmer's ear and middle ear infections in kids with a perforated ear drum or ear tubes.

There is no generic version of Ciprodex, which typically costs about $200, but the manufacturer does offer a Ciprodex instant rebate.


Available as suppositories, tablets, and as a syrup, promethazine (Phenergan) can be used to prevent and control nausea and vomiting. Recent warnings that it "may cause breathing to slow or stop, and may cause death in children," should be limiting its use now, especially as more pediatricians prescribe Zofran instead.


Prednisolone is a liquid steroid that is commonly used to treat flare-ups of asthma, poison ivy reactions, croup, and other corticosteroid-responsive disorders.


Also simply called A/B otic drops, these analgesic ear drops can help to relieve the pain and discomfort that can accompany an ear infection.

Unfortunately, most were not FDA approved.

According to the FDA, "The unapproved prescription ear drops contain active ingredients such as benzocaine and hydrocortisone, and have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness and quality. The labels on these products do not disclose that they lack FDA approval, and health care professionals may not be aware of their unapproved status. "


Vyvanse is the brand name of this class of stimulant that is used to treat ADHD.

Not available as a generic, Vyvanse costs about $240 to $250.

Get a Vyvanse coupon.

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