Drug samples divert docs from generics

Here's a study that jumps smack into the debate over pharma freebies. Free drug samples cost uninsured patients more in the long run because they inhibit doctors' prescribing of generic drugs rather than branded varieties, the Wake Forest University study found.

As you know, some hospitals and group physician practices have stopped accepting samples altogether. Others have set up sample "pools" that allow reps to hand over the free meds to a central office that then distributes them, keeping the reps more than arm's length from the doctors themselves. This new study suggests that even the pooled approach may not keep the samples from influencing prescribing behavior. Just having those free meds on hand seems to encourage them toward those brands rather than toward generic alternatives.

- read the Wake Forest release
- check out the story at MedPage Today