Navigation Links
Free Drug Samples Hike Out-of-Pocket Costs
Date:3/24/2008

Patients who get the samples spend more on prescription drugs, study says

MONDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who receive free drug samples from their doctors end up having significantly higher out-of-pocket costs for their prescription drugs than people who don't receive free samples, a new study finds.

In fact, patients who received free samples spent about $166 in out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs in the six months before receiving the samples, $244 for the six months in which they received samples, and $212 for the six months following receipt of the free drugs, the study found.

But patients who didn't get free samples spent about $178 on prescription drugs over six months.

"This is a curious finding because one would think, intuitively, that if you receive a free sample, one's out-of-pocket prescription cost would be lower, not higher," said lead researcher Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

There are several possible explanations for the finding, Alexander said. One is that patients who receive free samples may be sicker than patients who don't get samples.

"The second possibility is that patients who receive free samples may go on to receive and fill prescriptions for the very same medicine that were initially begun as free samples," Alexander said. "We know that drugs that are available as free samples are those that are being widely marketed and promoted and these drugs are more expensive than their older, less promoted counterparts."

The study findings are published in the March 24 issue of the journal Medical Care.

For the study, Alexander's team collected data on 5,709 patients who had participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The survey was done by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the patients were followed for up to two years.

Seventy-six percent of the patients had private health insurance. During the study period, 14 percent of them were given at least one drug sample. A total of 2,343 samples were distributed during the period, the researchers found.

Patients who received free samples were more likely to be younger and have private insurance, while patients with Medicaid were less likely to receive samples, the researchers noted.

The findings follow earlier research, reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health, in which Harvard University researchers showed that more than 80 percent of free drug samples were given to wealthy and insured patients, not to uninsured and poorer patients.

Alexander said there are many ways doctors and patients can work together to reduce drug costs, but giving away free samples may not be the best one.

"Doctors and patients both should be encouraged to consider alternative ways to reduce patients' out-of-pocket costs," he said. "There are many other strategies doctors can use, such as prescribing a three-month rather than a one-month supply, such as using greater numbers of generic medicines, and discontinuing non-essential medicines."

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, said free samples aren't designed to help lower drug costs, but rather to sell newer and more expensive drugs.

"Almost every clinician's office is stocked with drug samples," he said. "For patients and providers alike, these free drugs can take on the aura of Halloween goodies. Passing them out feels like giving a gift."

But, Katz added, "free samples are by no means a long-term solution to high prescription drug costs. Rather, they are at least, in part, a marketing device, a chance to sample the wares."

The pharmaceutical industry had this to say: "Free pharmaceutical samples are beneficial to patients of all income levels. Patients are able to try out a new therapy - gaining valuable first-hand experience of its benefits and side effects - without making a co-payment," said Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) senior vice president Ken Johnson.

"What's more, contrary to statements made by critics, America's physicians prescribe medicines based on a wide range of factors, not simply receipt of free prescription drug samples," Johnson added in a prepared statement.

More information

For more on prescription drug trends, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation.



SOURCES: G. Caleb Alexander, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; March 21, 2008, prepared statement, Ken Johnson, senior vice president, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Washington, D.c., March 24, 2008, Medical Care


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Most Free Drug Samples Go to Wealthy and Insured
2. Forsyth launches 1-of-a-kind core service to enable rapid identification of bacterial samples
3. Scientists using laser light to detect potential diseases via breath samples, says new study
4. Free drug samples may burden patients pockets
5. HealthMetrix Research Finds Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Seniors Opportunity to Lower Their 2008 Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs
6. U.S. Research Funding Continues to Flatten as U.S. Health Costs Climb - in August 31 Science
7. Over 500,000 Health Care Providers Now Cutting Costs, Saving Time Through CAQH Administrative Simplification Initiative
8. HSA Plans Gain Popularity as Premium Costs Rise
9. Obesity Driving Rising U.S. Health Costs
10. ICMA/CIGNA Survey: U.S. Cities and Counties Begin to Focus on Health Risks and Costs
11. HR Under the Microscope: Metrics to Drive Costs Down Across HR Functions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 2016 , ... With the increasing demand for dental implants, the National Association ... to inform dentists and patients about the safety issues related to dental restorations. According ... the U.S. is projected to reach $6.4 billion in 2018 with more than 30 ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... SunView ... customers and employees that are both engaging and easy to use. Coming off ... the software company revealed today its plans to roll out new AI-powered self-service ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., Nov. 24, 2016 ... the highest standards of trauma, maternity, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ... Dr. Daniel Messina. , Among the recognitions, the American College of Surgeons' (ACS) ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Today’s patients are ... this in mind, SIGVARIS has created a new line of anti-embolism stockings to ... and provide the benefits of graduated compression when transitioning from recovery to early ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Dickinson Insurance ... offices headquartered in Little Rock, has initiated a charity drive to provide support ... Foundation to End Senior Hunger, Arkansas ranks first in senior hunger statewide, third ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016   TriNetX , the health ... Hospital signed a membership agreement to join ... of new cures. The TriNetX network ... million patients globally, biopharmaceutical companies and contract research ... protocol design, site selection, patient recruitment, and collaborative ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Pa. , Dec. 8, 2016  Pennsylvania ... Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary ... and insomnia medications, known as benzodiazepines, developed with ... "Benzodiazepines are medications that are frequently prescribed ... when they are used with opioid pain medications, ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...  A new study by a pair of Geisinger ... therapy to treat chronic pain is not only ineffective, ... consequences, including death. Palliative care physicians ... , M.D., authored the study which provides a review ... study was published in the December 2016 edition of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: