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Doctors Prefer to Prescribe Drugs They're Given Samples Of

When doctors are given free samples of drugs by pharmaceutical reps, are they more likely to then prescribe those drugs in lieu of over-the-counter or generic alternatives? This is the question researchers set out to answer in a study of 29 internal medicine residents over a six-month period.

What did they find? "... Physicians with access to drug samples in clinic were more likely to write new prescriptions for heavily advertised drugs and less likely to recommend OTC drugs than their peers. There was also a trend toward less use of inexpensive drugs," one researcher said. And, "Access to drug samples influenced prescribing decisions of resident physicians, something that would seem to violate published national guidelines on physician interactions with the pharmaceutical industry." He said the findings contradict two widespread beliefs:

  • Drug samples are inherently different from other forms of marketing.
  • Samples help patients manage drug costs in the long term.

    Not too surprising, considering drug companies spend $4 billion every year to market their drugs to you, but they spend $16 billion to influence physicians. Doctors aren't the only ones being influenced by drug company marketing, the government, many celebrities and, of course, consumers are also targets.

    Eurek Alert July 28, 2005

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