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Comment & Response
November 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Free Drug Samples

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(11):1237-1238. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1820

To the Editor I read with interest the article by Hurley et al1 that sets out to describe the relationship between free drug samples and dermatologists’ prescribing patterns. The authors duly note their study limitations, including its restriction to a single academic medical center, its representation of the nonacademic pool by the National Disease and Therapeutic Index (NDTI), and its inability to control for other factors such as pharmaceutical marketing or even differences in patient demographics in such a small pool of patients at only 1 academic medical center. As a former participant in the NDTI database—who stopped participating because it was too cumbersome to effectively provide data—I am skeptical of the validity of the study data. However, the authors did a fine job at presenting the data with balance and ultimately suggesting that free drug samples may lead to a higher cost in acne vulgaris treatment. This was thought provoking even if limited in its ability to answer the ultimate question.

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