A new research done by researchers from Stanford University and published April 16 in the journal JAMA Dermatology, found that free samples given by the doctors to patients as ‘prescription drugs’ though looks like a good deal is actually benefiting only the drug manufacturers.
A group of researchers took a close look at the data on prescriptions for adult acne medications written in 2010 by dermatologists across the United States. Dermatologists love the idea of giving out free samples and the data show that over 80% of the prescriptions written in 2010 came from free sample. This is a drastic increase from 12% reported in the year 2001.
In fact, specifically in adult acne patients 25% of prescriptions came from samples in the year 2010 which was only 10% in 2001.
“Many physicians believe that free samples have both benefits and drawbacks,” study first author Michael Hurley, a Stanford medical student, said in the news release.
But even when doctors think they’re doing patients a favor by handing out the freebies, critics said there can be a downside. It encourages doctors to prescribe drugs that are more expensive and potentially less safe than the work-horse generics that are just as effective.
Moreover researchers found that, for a single visit, the average retail cost of prescriptions for patients whose doctors received free samples from drug makers was about $465, compared with about $200 for patients whose doctors did not receive free samples.
The research further showed that Retin-A Micro, Differin, Benzaclin and Duac were the 4 highly prescribed acne drugs, with a free sample and without samples, by most of the dermatologists in United States.
Study senior author Dr. Alfred Lane, emeritus professor of dermatology and of pediatrics at Stanford University, said in a university news release: “Physicians may not be aware of the cost difference between brand-name and generic drugs, and patients may not realize that, by accepting samples, they could be unintentionally channeled into subsequently receiving a prescription for a more expensive medication.”
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