Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter drug used to treat moderate pain and reduce fevers. It can be purchased at all pharmacies and drug stores across the country without a prescription from a doctor. On average, we found that extra strength acetaminophen caplets cost $6.26 per pack, but the price can be affected by the strength, brand, and type of capsule.
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The Cost of Acetaminophen
When making an acetaminophen purchase, you should compare prices across different locations to get the best deal possible. We used information from five common pharmacies across the country to find the best price estimate for acetaminophen. On average, we found that 500 mg extra strength acetaminophen costs $6.26 per pack or $0.05 per pill (caplet).
Rite Aid had the cheapest acetaminophen product, which came out to only $0.01 per caplet. The most expensive product was at CVS, at about $0.14 per caplet. We collected the cost information directly from the pharmacy websites. Note that prices may vary slightly online and in person.
Cost of Acetaminophen at Different Pharmacies
Cost of Acetaminophen Per Pack/Caplet
|CVS Health Extra Strength Pain Relief Acetaminophen, 500 mg Caplets|
|Rite Aid Extra Strength Acetaminophen, 500 mg Caplets|
|Walgreens Extra Strength Pain Reliever Acetaminophen, 500 mg Caplets|
|Equate Extra Strength Acetaminophen, 500 mg Caplets|
|up & up Acetaminophen Extra Strength Pain Reliever & Fever Reducer, 500 mg Caplets|
Factors that Influence the Cost of Acetaminophen
When purchasing acetaminophen, the only additional cost you may incur is likely sales tax. However, some factors can influence the price of this medication. The strength or dosage, purchasing brand names or generic options, and the type of acetaminophen capsule can all impact how much you pay for acetaminophen.
Strength of Drug
There are varying strengths of acetaminophen available for purchase at pharmacies. We focused this article on the prices of extra strength (500 mg) acetaminophen, but it comes in other forms as well, including regular strength, maximum strength, and extended-release. Maximum strength is typically only used for certain conditions, like menstrual symptoms or sinus relief. Below is a chart comparing the price of different doses of acetaminophen at different pharmacies.
Cost Comparison of Different Acetaminophen Doses
Cost of Extra Strength (500 mg) Per Pack/Caplet
Cost of Regular Strength (325 mg) Per Pack/Caplet
Cost of Maximum Strength Per Pack/Caplet
Cost of Extended-Release (650 mg) Per Pack/Caplet
The most expensive version of acetaminophen is the maximum strength version, which is $0.14 per caplet, and the cheapest dose is the 500 mg extra strength acetaminophen at $0.05 per caplet.
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Brand Names vs. Generic Acetaminophen
Another factor that can affect the cost of acetaminophen is purchasing a name brand or the generic version. Generic versions of medications, whether over the counter or prescription, are generally cheaper than brand names.
Tylenol is the name brand of acetaminophen, which is also found at all pharmacies across the country. There is essentially no difference between Tylenol and the generic version of acetaminophen. They are both available in the same forms and have the same chemical composition. Cost is the only difference between Tylenol and generic acetaminophen, and Tylenol can be significantly more expensive.
Cost Comparison of Brand Name and Generic Acetaminophen
Generic Cost Per Pack/Caplet
Brand Name Cost Per Pack/Caplet
As stated above, on average, generic acetaminophen costs $0.05 per caplet, while Tylenol costs around $0.10 per caplet. Therefore, you can save about 50% by purchasing the generic store brand of this drug on your next trip to the store.
Type of Capsule
In addition, acetaminophen can come in several different forms. Acetaminophen is often available in caplets or tablets, which is the most common form of a pill. They are also available in hard-shelled, soft-shelled capsules and coated tablets.
Soft-shelled capsules are usually larger than the caplets or hard-shelled capsules and are transparent in color. The medication inside is normally in a gel form, making it easier to digest for some people.
Hard-shelled capsules consist of two halves that make up the casing. Inside can either be a powder medication or liquid. They are perfect for dual-action drugs or extended-release formulas. Coated tablets have a sweeter coating that makes the pill easier to swallow and doesn’t leave an aftertaste.
Below we outline the prices of different types of capsules for generic acetaminophen pills. Note that prices may be higher if you purchase brand-name acetaminophen for any of these types of pills.
Cost Comparison of Different Acetaminophen Pill Forms
Cost of Caplets Per Pack/Caplet
Cost of Hard-Shelled Per Pack/Capsule
Cost of Soft-Shelled Per Pack/Capsule
Cost of Coated Tablet Per Pack/Tablet
The cheapest form of acetaminophen is coated tablets, which on average cost $0.04 per tablet. Hard-shelled capsules cost $0.07 per capsule on average. Generally, soft-shelled capsules are the most expensive and cost around $0.18 per capsule.
Acetaminophen Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are the answers to some common questions about acetaminophen, when you should take it, and how much it costs.
When should I take acetaminophen?
If you are experiencing mild to moderate pain symptoms or have a slight fever, you may consider taking acetaminophen. It may not be the best pain-relieving medication if your pain is due to inflammation. Make sure to read the packaged instructions because the amount of acetaminophen may be different in each product. It is recommended to take with water or another liquid.
Will insurance pay for acetaminophen?
No, insurance will most likely not cover the cost of acetaminophen or other over-the-counter drugs. However, many of the products are FSA or HSA eligible. Therefore, you can use the tax-free money in your HSA or FSA account to cover the price of this medication.
This has been made possible due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in 2020. This is the first time since 2011 that over-the-counter products can be purchased with FSA or HSA funds.
Should I take ibuprofen or acetaminophen?
Although ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both drugs used for pain relief, they are fairly different. Ibuprofen, which is the generic version of Advil or Motrin, is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), while acetaminophen is an analgesic or pain-relieving drug. Therefore ibuprofen is more beneficial for inflammatory pain caused by menstrual cramps or arthritis. In addition, ibuprofen reduces your blood’s ability to clot, so you should avoid taking it with other blood-thinning medications. Acetaminophen is less likely to cause stomach issues than ibuprofen. Depending on your symptoms, one may be more beneficial than the other.
How often can I take acetaminophen?
Although acetaminophen is more easily digested than ibuprofen, it is easier to reach an overdose of acetaminophen. Taking too much acetaminophen can lead to liver damage, so it’s important to read the packaged instructions to avoid this.
Safe Acetaminophen Doses
650 mg extended-release
How many pills to take at a time?
1 or 2
1 or 2
1 or 2
How often to take
Every 4 to 6 hours
Every 4 to 6 hours
Every 8 hours
Safest maximum daily dose for adults
Never take more than this in a 24 hour period
12 pills (3900 mg)
8 pills (4000 mg)
6 pills (3900 mg)
Is acetaminophen safe to take during pregnancy?
Unlike ibuprofen, acetaminophen is safe to take during pregnancy. It is the recommended pain-relieving medication during all trimesters of pregnancy. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any medications while pregnant.
Can children take acetaminophen?
Acetaminophen is safe for children over the age of six months. Children’s acetaminophen is available over the counter as both a liquid and a chewable tablet, and the dosage is determined by your child’s weight. Below is a chart of safe acetaminophen doses for children based on their weight. These doses can be taken every four to six hours.
Safe Acetaminophen Doses for Children
160 mg/5 mL Syrup
160 mg/1 tsp Syrup
80 mg Chewable Tablets
96 or more lbs
Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter pain-relieving medication that can be purchased at all pharmacies across the country. On average, we found that a bottle of extra-strength acetaminophen (500 mg) costs $6.26, or $0.05 per caplet. This price can be affected by the strength of acetaminophen, the brand purchased, and the type of pill. Although insurance cannot be used to cover the cost, acetaminophen is now FSA and HSA eligible.
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