Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free drug samples lead to higher cost for patients finds Stanford study

Study finds giving free drug samples costs patients more

Doctors who give free drug samples to their patients are not doing consumers a favor. According to a Stanford University study published in the journal JAMA dermatology free medications are more expensive drugs that end up being more widely prescribed. The result is higher medication costs to consumers. 

According to EmaxHealth.com
"Most doctors and patients welcome free samples from pharmaceutical companies because they offer a way for people to try new medications without the risk of paying for a full prescription. However, there is a hidden issue that is happening that has consequences for patients. Doctors who receive free samples are less likely to prescribe generic drugs, and this quickly adds up to a costly problem. The study found that their prescriptions were twice as expensive as the ones written by doctors without access to free samples."
For their study the Stanford researchers found doctors who give free samples prescribe acne and rosacea drugs that cost the consumer an average of $450. When they compared the cost to clinics that didn't have free samples the cost was only $200. 

Professor Alfred Lane, senior study author who teaches pediatrics and dermatology at Stanford told PBS news it appears pharmaceutical companies spend over six billion a year giving free samples to doctors that provide no benefit to "poor" patients. 

Lane said the message to physicians is that giving free samples to patients has no proven benefit. Instead, doctors are being "manipulated" into writing for more expensive medications when cheaper generics are available and just as effective.