Monday, March 24, 2008

Who should get FREE drug samples?

As clinicians, should we be giving drug samples to anyone? What's the harm, right? 

Well, a very interesting article came out recently by the APHA:  

Characteristics of Patients Receiving Pharmaceutical Samples and Association Between Sample Receipt and Out-of-Pocket Prescription Costs. 

Conclusions: Individuals receiving samples have higher prescription expenditures than their counterparts. These findings suggest that sample recipients remain disproportionately burdened by prescription costs even after sample receipt.

Here's a link to the abstract

So what does this tell us? Clinicians give out drug samples all the time. In fact, some patients who have limited financial resources rely on free samples for their maintenance medications. They may take different blood pressure medications every few months, but at least they are taking something to control their hypertension. Is this good medicine? What about other long-term implications, such as prescription cost issues? After all, free drug samples are generally only available for new medications. Old drugs and even generics are often sufficient, but clinicians never get samples of these. 


  1. Interesting. I found a similar article on the Health Business Blog about giving free drug samples to patients, rich or poor.

  2. David keeps a great blog about these types of things. Thanks for the comment.