Glad to receive free dermatology drug samples! Think again

If you happen to visit your Family Dermatologist and are enamored when he gives you a free samples, think again. In fact the Good Samaritan act could be increasing the cost of your treatment. Most Dermatologists happen to prescribe more expensive medications when they give complimentary drug samples to their patients.

According to a news report in Reuters Health, patients must not harbor any notion that he is receiving better treatment if their Doctor is giving a complementary pack of drugs. In fact the Doctor may have increased the price of the treatment by giving you that sample.

According to senior author, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, Dr Alfred Lane, “If you’re a patient who receives a sample, you may perceive that doctor is giving you better care because they gave you a gift. But that doctor may have increased your medical costs by giving you that sample.”

Dr Lane was addressing fellow dermatologists and he said that Dermatologists must realize that the free samples are making they prescribe costlier drugs.

According to a study published in the JAMA Dermatology, Dr. Kenneth Katz and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, the drug industry annually distributes about $6.3 billion drug samples. Free Physicians samples are meant to be distributed to enable patients to try out the drugs before they are prescribed. It also gave the economically weaker patients access to costly drugs.

The antagonists of the practice of distributing free samples however contend that it is not being received by the needy patients and is ending up influencing the Doctors about prescribing a particular type of drug. It could also be possible that Doctors may not be explaining the risks and the benefit aspect of the drug as pharmacists would do.

The study revealed that 9 out of 10 drugs prescribed by dermatologists were more expensive branded drug and branded generic drugs.

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  • In The Lou

    If you received a sample, you just got a discount on your medication. Take the amount of days of the sample minus the prescription cost (should be easy math for the Stanford boys). Often the physician will give two or three samples, such as an allergist, to see what products work best, then the patient will fill the prescription that worked best. Other samples are used for people who can’t afford a course of therapy (i.e. an antibiotic), and there is no prescription written.
    In reality, sure, the price of the drug goes up, but so does the price of my Chevy, Pepsi, Budweiser, Lawn fertilizer, Cell phone, Cell phone carrier, washer, dishwasher, furniture, papa johns pizza, and on and on, hey Stanford, it’s called “promotion” and it’s covered in marketing 101. Now the price of my tuition for becoming a Derm just went up at Stanford, for this cat isn’t doing this project for free is he? He probably has a grant he obtained from the drug industry. Also, why don’t the generic companies give out some samples, they are more profitable than many of the brand name drug companies of late? Also, when is the last time a generic company came out with a new therapy to treat a disease? They don’t, there is no R&D in the generic industry, just the brand industry. So if you want 12-17 year old therapies and treatment for your diseases, go ahead and wipe out the pharmaceutical industry. Also, go look at their profits, these companies are not brining in the money they used to, you won’t see their stock as “attractive investments”. In additon, make it a law that physicians stop asking for free lunches for their office staff every day at noon, just so you can get updated on new therapies and get your samples. Drug companies don’t want to bring in lunches, the physicians demand them, or they won’t see the companies. Finally, my rant is just about over, sorry for the run on, physicians and hospitals are the largest part of the healthcare pie in delivering care to patients. They also have had the largest percent increases over the past 10 years. Drugs amount to under 7% of the healthcare dollar, patients realize it more though, for they see the bill at the pharmacy, where the physicians and hospitals take it to the insurance companies which raise or coverage amounts every year.
    Balance your story out a bit Doc, Stanford is no angel in not taking grant money. Remember, you guys are throwing more money (percent increase) into your athelitic programs (basketball) than you are into education over the last 10 years. Also your rate of tuition increases are much higher than the drug industry (brand name or generic).
    This story may have been releveant in the 1980’s, but the industry has changed dramatically, with healthcare plans who have formularies for the lowest cost product in each theapeutic category. If a phsyican writes a brand name drug, and if there is a generic that has been deemed just as effective, the brand is blocked, or the patient has the option to pay an extra co-pay. This is called managed care, and each drug is reviewed by how effective it cost and is there a generic that can have the same outcome. All Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial pharmacy benefits have had this for the last twenty years. This viewpoint is very dated!

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