Why is medicine for infants and children more expensive than over-the-counter meds for adults?

Posted at 7:25 AM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 13:00:58-04

When you’re at the drug store picking up an over-the-counter medication, you might notice the price of infant or children’s drugs are more expensive than the adult version.

A search online showed that an adult version of Tylenol costs $4.99 a bottle at Target. The children’s version of the medicine costs $5.99 for four ounces at the same retailer. But a bottle of infant Tylenol that is two ounces is $8.79 a bottle. Why is there a large price difference?

"When you start to add additional items to a package product, you start to see price differences," said Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports.

Added products, like syringes and plastic measuring cups that help dispense the medicine, can add to the cost.

"That acetaminophen that is in the Tylenol product and store brand product is literally the exact same drug," Gill said.

Johnson & Johnson, who makes Tylenol, did not respond to questions on how it determines pricing. But the company isn’t the only name brand that has wide price differences.

If you are a brand loyalist, it can be hard breaking away, but Gill said it’s worth it.

"Believe it or not, the best deal is typically not Tylenol — it's going to be a generic,” Gill said. “The generic version, the store brand, the Walmart, the Target, the CVS, the Walgreens store brand — the store brand is almost always half the price."

Although the generic brand for the adult version isn’t quite half of the price of Tylenol, it is still a discount at $3.49 a bottle.