Where are the free samples?
As you may have noticed, our practice does not dispense free pharmaceutical samples.
Though you might initially think of this as an inconvenience or even a hardship, we
believe this to be in your best interest. Please allow us to explain.
“Free” samples are promotional. The medications in the “sample cabinet” are always the
newest and most expensive medications available. Sales-people want very much to get
samples into our closet, because they know that once there, they will be given to patients.
What’s wrong with this?
The problem is that many studies have shown that the use of samples can result in the
prescribing of inappropriate, expensive medications. This can result in significant
hardship for patients. And this may occur despite the availability of older, cheaper (and
just as good) medications. Furthermore, because these medications are new, there may be
side effects that we don’t yet know about yet, which can place you at increased risk.
In addition, most practices are unable to keep track of samples the way that a pharmacy
does. If a product were to be recalled, a pharmacy would know exactly where every pill
went. This is not necessarily the case with a sample. Furthermore, samples do not come
with the printed information and instructions that you get from your pharmacy.
But I don’t have prescription drug coverage. Isn’t a sample better than nothing?
We are well aware that many of our patients lack adequate prescription drug coverage
and that paying for medications can often be a significant burden. But here are a few
alternatives that we believe are better than samples.
Generic medications: Many medications are now available as generics. These can be
significantly less expensive than name brand medications, and you should know that
generics must be shown to be equivalent to brand name drugs to be approved by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration. We try to use generics whenever possible.
Patient Assistance Programs: These programs, run by the drug companies themselves,
provide several months of medications at no charge for eligible patients. We will try to
use these programs whenever possible.
You may also have noticed that because we do not accept samples, we no longer have
sales people in our office. This leaves more time (and room) for our staff to pay attention
to you. And you may also have noticed that there are also no branded clocks, notepads, or
pens in our office. We prefer to prescribe on the basis of scientific evidence rather than
promotion or what samples happen to be in the “sample cabinet.”
We believe this practice to be in your best interest.
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For more information, we recommend the following websites:
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drug http://www.crbestbuydrugs.org/index.html
Public Citizen Health Research Group Worst Pills Best Pills http://www.worstpills.org/
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Consumer Drug Information
No Free Lunch http://www.nofreelunch.org