30 Most Commonly Prescribed Pediatric Medications

Most Prescribed Drugs for Kids and Teens

What are the most prescribed drugs for children and teens? This list comes from analysis of a large prescription database over the course of eight years. A quick review of the list can help you to understand the medicines that your own kids might be commonly prescribed by your pediatrician. Not surprisingly, antibiotics top the list, although their use declined during the eight years of the study.

1
Amoxicillin

Boy holding red pills and glass of water
PhotoAlto/Antoine Arraou/Getty Images

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.

2
Azithromycin

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).

3
Albuterol

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 an inexpensive medication. Albuterol asthma inhalers are more expensive. There is a Ventolin HFA inhaler with only 60 actuations (vs 200 in most other inhalers) that is less expensive.

4
Amoxicillin/Clavulanate

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 Streptococcus pneumononiae infections.

5
Cefdinir

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. In general, cefdinir is a little more expensive than some other antibiotics.

6
Cephalexin

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. It is available as an inexpensive generic.

7
Fluticasone

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.

8
Prednisolone Sodium Phosphate

Available in both a 25 milligram/5 milliliter and 15 milligram/5 milliliter 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.

9
Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is 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.

10
Singulair (Montelukast Sodium)

Singulair (montelukast sodium) 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.

11
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole

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).

12
Codeine phosphate/acetaminophen

This is 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.

13
Hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen

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

14
Mupirocin

Bactroban (mupirocin) 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.

15
Nystatin

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

16
Methylphenidate

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

17
Dextromethorphan/Phenylephrine/Chlorpheniramine

This is 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 formulations. For example, don't use a combination cough and cold syrup if your child just needs a decongestant.

18
Mometasone

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

19
Triamcinolone

Another steroid, triamcinolone is the active ingredient in Nasacort AQ nasal spray and triamcinolone acetonide cream and ointment. Triamcinolone acetonide cream (TAC) is one of the least expensive medications to treat eczema flares and other skin rashes.​ Nasacort nasal spray is available as a generic and is now over-the-counter.

20
Prednisone

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.

21
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 don't have access to fluoridated tap water, fluoride supplements can be an important way to keep their teeth healthy and prevent dental caries.

22
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.

23
Amphetamine/Dextroamphetamine

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 and extended release Adderall XR are available.

24
Hydrocortisone

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

25
Budesonide

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

Budesonide is 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.

26
Ciprofloxacin/Dexamethasone

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, but the manufacturer does offer a Ciprodex instant rebate.

27
Promethazine

Available as suppositories, tablets, and as a syrup, Phenergan (promethazine) can be used to prevent and control nausea and vomiting. 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.

28
Prednisolone

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

29
Antipyrine/Benzocaine

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 and the FDA announced enforcement actions against manufacturers in 2015. 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."

30
Lisdexamfetamine

Vyvanse is the brand name of this class of stimulant that is used to treat ADHD. It is not available as a generic. You can get a Vyvanse coupon.

Source:

Chai G, Governale L, Mcmahon AW, Trinidad JP, Staffa J, Murphy D. Trends of Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization in US Children, 2002-2010. Pediatrics. 2012;130(1):23-31. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-2879.

Continue Reading