Great piece from The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., about how a small clinic analyzed the effects of drug company representatives’ visits to the  clinic bearing lunches and samples, and how the clinic decided to throw the reps out:

“An analysis of the sample closet revealed very few first-line drugs, the type of medications that doctors would normally try first because they work best for most patients. The samples were for drugs that cost patients an average of $90 a month. There were less expensive generics available for 38 of the 46 sample drugs, cutting the patients’ average cost to $22 a month.

“Research suggests there’s a hidden cost to samples.

“In 2008, researchers from the University of Chicago calculated that patients who received samples paid between $212 and $244 a month in average prescription costs, compared with $168 a month for those who never got a sample.

“Samples are primarily given to promote the use of the more expensive, brand-name drugs, which in the end may be no more effective than lower-cost generics. But studies show that once a patient is started on a medication with a free sample, he is rarely switched to a lower-cost alternative.” By Markian Hawryluk Drug reps and doctors; Madras clinic ousts salesmen and their samples, The Bulletin, July 15, 2013

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...