Pediatric Freebies

From Vincent Iannelli, M.D.,
Your Guide to Pediatrics.
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Free Health Stuff for Your Kids

Everyone like free stuff. With the rising costs of health care, even if you have insurance, a little help with healthcare expenses is welcomed by most parents.

Although most people think of freebies as getting a coupon or free samples from your favorite store or company, your Pediatrician's office can also be a treasure trove of free stuff. The secret is asking for samples that have been left by drug representatives that are trying to get the word out to Pediatricians about their products, which range from samples of acne medicines to free cans of formula.

In a busy Pediatrician's office, remembering to offer free samples to parents often takes a back seat to other duties and trying to keep the office running on time. But that doesn't mean that you can't ask the doctor or nurse for a free sample. The worst they can do is say no.

So what can you get from your Pediatrician besides a healthy child?

Infant Formula

Although Pediatricians are usually only stocked with formula from the bigger manufactures, like Mead Johnson and Ross, they usually have all of the different types of formula offered by these companies, including regular formula with iron, soy, lactose free, elemental formulas, and the new DHA and ARA enhanced formulas (Enfamil LIPIL and Similac Advance).

Asking for a sample can be especially helpful if your Pediatrician is recommending that you try a different formula because of a formula intolerance or other medical problem. Does your child have reflux? Ask for some Enfamil AR to try. Does he have a problem with a formula intolerance? Ask for a soy or an elemental formula, such as Nutramigen.

Even if your child is doing well on his current formula, you still might ask for a few cans of formula and spend the money on something else. You may also be able to get coupons for a discount when you buy formula. For example, Mead Johnson and Ross often offer coupons that can help you save money when you buy their formula.


Everyone knows that antibiotics can be expensive. Even if you have insurance, you might be stuck with a $15-45 copay, or more if the prescribed medication is not a preferred antibiotic by your insurance plan. If you are paying the full price yourself, you might be looking at paying $30-$125 for a prescription. And that is on top of the cost of the office visit.

Fortunately, the use of amoxicillin has had a resurgence. And that is good, because it works well, can now be used just twice a day, tastes great and is inexpensive. But if your child is allergic to amoxicillin or has recently been on antibiotics, you might be prescribed a different antibiotic, which will likely not be generic and will cost a lot.

Samples of antibiotics are another thing that many Pediatrician's offices are stocked with. Antibiotics which are usually in good supply in most Pediatrician's offices include Augmentin ES, Cefzil, Omnicef, Zithromax, Duricef, Ceftin, Lorabid and many others. If your child has been on multiple antibiotics for a resistant ear infection, or if you don't have any help paying for your medications, ask your Pediatrician for a sample.

Your Pediatrician may also have sample of topical antibiotics, such as Oculfox, Vigamox and Ciloxan for pink-eye, Floxin, Cipro-DEX and Cipro HC for swimmers ear, and Bactroban for skin infections.

Another situation where getting a sample can be helpful is if you think it will be a while before you can get the prescription filled. If you ask for 2-3 dosages of the antibiotic, you can start your child on the medicine right away, drop off your prescription at the pharmacy and pick it up later or the next day. That beats waiting at the pharmacy with a sick child.

Samples can also be helpful if you are traveling, since you can prepare each dose individually and don't have to worry about keeping the medicine refrigerated.

Asthma and Allergy Medications

Many drug companies also supply doctors with a steady supply of asthma and allergy medicines, including Claritin, Clarinex, Zyrtec, Allergra, Flonase, Nasonex, Rhinocort Aqua, Flovent, Pulmicort, Foradil, Serevent, Advair, Xopenex, Singulair, etc. Although you likely won't be able to get a full months supply of these medications, you may get enough for a trial of a week or two to see if the medications work before you invest in a full prescription. This is especially helpful for the allergy medications, since if you can try 2 or 3 different medications, it will be easier to see what works best for your child.

Last Updated 7/03/04