What are Promotional Samples? Samples are packets of a few tablets of new, brand-name medications that pharmaceuti- cal company salespeople leave at your doctor's office as a way to promote new product Why is My lines. They usually do not contain more than a few Doctor doses. If you have ever used samples, you know that it Restricting takes several packets to cover even one month’s supply. the Use of Pharmaceutical companies Promotional hope that if a patient starts taking a sample of a new drug, the physician will continue to The Unbranded Doctor Campaign of the National Physicians Alliance represents a network of physicians across America who believe that medical offices should not accept or display free promotional products Samples? from industry salespeople. Even small gifts have been shown to influence write a prescription for that medical decision-making and undermine best practice. drug after the sample runs To join our campaign, visit www.npalliance.org. out. There are no generic samples. Once a drug loses To learn more: patent protection, its samples National Physicians Alliance www.npalliance.org disappear. The Prescription Project www.prescriptionproject.org American Medical Student Association www.amsa.org Why is Our Practice Restricting Samples? • Having patients “try out” • Research shows that samples Frequently Asked Questions the latest medicine rather than are given more often to people What am I supposed to do now if I take one with a long safety with health insurance than to can’t afford my medicine? Many record is riskier; the new drug those without—including physi- Americans earn too much money to may later be found to have cians’ families, friends, and office qualify for medical assistance but not serious side effects. staff. enough to pay for health insurance or prescriptions. Ask your doctor about • Though “free” at first, • Promotional samples encour- available drug assistance programs. samples do not really save age the use of the newest medi- What if I need to try a new patients money; co-pays for cations, which are often no bet- medication and don’t want to pay new medicines are often higher, ter than an established version of the co-pay for a small supply? If you and you’ll end up paying more the same drug, and which may be and I (as your physician) want to try you in the long run. more expensive. on a new medication, I will write you for a full-length prescription. Most drugs • The cost of promotional • As your doctor, I want to are well tolerated. If the drug doesn’t samples is passed on to con- prescribe the safest and most work for you, simply notify the practice sumers in the form of higher effective medication for you at and flush the remaining pills. prices for brand-name drugs. the lowest cost. Helping pro- Patients in the U.S. pay more mote new industry products is What if I disagree with this policy? not the job of the physician. Our practice is following the lead of a for prescriptions than in any number of large hospitals and medical other country, with the result societies in adopting this policy. We that poor and elderly people do believe it is in the best interest of our not always have access to the patients to limit the influence of medicines they need. In short, marketing on medical decision-making. samples are not really free. We are happy to talk with you about it.
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