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August 1988

Drug SamplesA Conflict of Interest?

Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(8):1283-1285. doi:10.1001/archderm.1988.01670080089028

Providing drug samples is only one way that drug companies interact with dermatologists. Selling drugs is the primary goal of the drug industry. When pharmaceutical companies use drug sampling to encourage specific drug prescribing by dermatologists, the quality of patient care may be lessened.

In the essay, Doctors and the Drug Makers, Rawlins notes, "No drug company gives away its shareholders money in an act of disinterested generosity".1 In order to accumulate drug samples, dermatologists must meet and listen to drug representatives (reps). In this new age of medical commerce, these "reps" are armed with sophisticated marketing and educational techniques. When a physician's education in drug usage comes from drug reps, can a patient's interests be threatened?

This subject is highly controversial. I give drug samples to my patients. I would, however, ask my colleagues whether we are really serving our patients' best interests when we serve as the

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