Study finds doctors are influenced by drug samples
Medical residents with access to promotional drug samples are more likely to write prescriptions for heavily advertised drugs than less expensive brands, generics or OTC treatments, a new study has found.
The study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine (AJM) contradicts the claims of many doctors that samples do not influence them. The study also undercuts the suggestion that samples save patients money. "Although samples may provide short-term economic benefit for some patients," the authors wrote, "their primary purpose is to market new and expensive drugs."
In conducting their research, study authors, Dr. Richard Adair of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Leah Holmgren of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, examined the prescribing patterns of 29 internal medicine residents over six months at an inner-city primary care clinic.
They concluded that doctors who are given access to samples were more likely to prescribe expensive versions of the drugs.
Adair and Holmgren also concluded that if the samples influenced the doctors they studied, it would appear to violate national guidelines on the relationship between drug companies and physicians.
The AJM study also cited earlier research showing that when samples were removed from clinics, doctors were more likely to prescribe drugs recommended by medical authorities. Prior research also found that after samples run out doctors write prescriptions for that brand instead of switching to drugs that they would have otherwise preferred.