Drug reps and doctors: Oregon clinic ousts salesmen and their samples

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

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