Most physicians will tell you that free drug samples are an important part of their practice. After all, patients who get samples can avoid co-pays, and more importantly, can begin treatment immediately. However, critics are increasingly protesting this practice, arguing that such samples prompt doctors to prescribe the new medications on hand rather than choosing the drug indicated by medical evidence. What's more, critics say, older drugs may sometimes be safer, as their side effects are well-known.
In response, a growing number of academic medical centers, as well as some medical groups, are banning or restricting the use of samples. For example, the University of Michigan Health System has completely banned the use of free samples, while University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University medical schools don't let staff members accept such samples. With several other health systems and academic medical centers considering similar bans, it's likely this list will grow over the next year or two.
To find out more about samples bans:
- read this piece in The New York Times (reg. req.)
Henry Ford bans pharma perks, vendor drop-ins. Report
Stanford bans sales rep gifts to doctors. Article
UC Davis mulls pharma freebies ban. Article
FierceHealthcare readers debate ethics of freebies. Letters