Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a brand-name drug prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy. The medication is available in tablets and extended-release capsules. The cost of Ritalin with and without insurance can depend on several factors.

Ritalin is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Ritalin belongs to a drug class called stimulants. Ritalin is available in a generic version.

The capsule form of Ritalin (Ritalin-LA) is extended release, meaning it slowly releases the medication in your body over a period of time.

Both forms of the drug may be prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy in people ages 6 years and older.

Read on to learn about Ritalin and cost, as well as how to save money on prescriptions. If you’d like other information about Ritalin, refer to this article.

As with all medications, the cost of Ritalin can vary. Factors that may affect the price you’ll pay include:

  • your treatment plan
  • your insurance coverage
  • the pharmacy you use
  • whether Ritalin has a savings program (see the “Financial and insurance assistance” section below)

To find out what the cost of Ritalin will be for you, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

Note: If you have insurance, your insurance company may require prior authorization before it covers Ritalin. This means the company and your doctor will discuss Ritalin in regard to your treatment. The insurance company will then determine whether the medication is covered. If a drug requires prior authorization, but you start treatment without the prior approval, you could pay the full cost of the medication. You can ask your insurance company whether Ritalin requires prior authorization.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about drug cost and Ritalin.

Do the different strengths of Ritalin, such as 20 mg or 40 mg, have different prices?

It’s possible. Different strengths of Ritalin tablets or extended-release capsules may vary slightly in price. The 20-milligram (mg) strength may cost slightly less than the 40-mg strength of Ritalin.

In addition, the capsule form of Ritalin may cost more than the tablet form of the drug.

The price you pay for Ritalin tablets or capsules may be less if you have insurance.

To find out the exact cost you’ll pay for Ritalin, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

Does Ritalin cost less than Adderall?

It may cost less. Ritalin and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) are both drugs that doctors may prescribe for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. The cost of either drug can depend on several factors.

These factors include whether you have insurance, as well as your specific insurance plan. The cost of a drug can also depend on the dosage you’re prescribed.

To find out how much you’ll pay for Ritalin versus Adderall, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider. For more details about how Ritalin and Adderall compare, see this article.

The active drug in Ritalin is methylphenidate. Both tablet and capsule forms are available as a generic drug called methylphenidate hydrochloride. A generic drug is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

If your doctor has prescribed Ritalin and you’re interested in taking methylphenidate hydrochloride instead, talk with your doctor. They may have a preference for one version or the other. You’ll also need to check with your insurance provider, as it may only cover one or the other.

To find out how the cost of this generic drug compares with the cost of Ritalin, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.


Brand-name drugs can be expensive because of the research needed to test their safety and effectiveness. The manufacturer of a brand-name drug can sell it for up to 20 years. When the brand-name drug’s patent expires, multiple manufacturers can create generic versions. This marketplace competition may lead to lower costs for generics. Also, because generics contain the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, they don’t require the same costly testing.

If you take Ritalin long term, you may be able to lower its cost in the following ways.

Getting a 3-month supply

You may be able to get a 90-day supply of Ritalin. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

If you don’t have health insurance, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to suggest online pharmacy options that could work for you.

If you need financial support to pay for Ritalin, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available. For example:

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions with or without insurance, check out this article.

Now that you’ve learned about cost and Ritalin, you may still have some questions. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist, who can provide personalized guidance about cost issues related to Ritalin. But if you have health insurance, you’ll need to talk with your insurance provider to learn the actual cost you’d pay for Ritalin.

Here are some other resources you may find helpful:

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.