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Comment & Response
November 2014

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

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, The Permanente Medical Group Inc, Pleasanton, California
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 4San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(11):1238. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1815

In Reply We agree with Dr Poligone that evidence should guide the practice of medicine. With respect to dispensing free drug samples, existing evidence supports our contention that this practice should be discouraged in dermatology.

Although the prescribing practices of Dr Poligone’s colleague are laudable, they are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to drug samples. Indeed, a substantial and growing body of evidence1,2 (including the study on which we commented3) has shown that physicians who give patients drug samples are more likely than other physicians to prescribe medicines that are more expensive and less appropriate as first-line treatments. Moreover, drug samples are more likely to be newer and therefore more likely to have emerging safety concerns, including concerns that lead to black-box warnings.4

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