Samples influence physician behavior

October 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

A new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine (vol. 15, no. 7) shows that samples handed out by pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence doctors to prescribe drugs they wouldn't have otherwise.

A new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine (vol. 15, no. 7) shows that samples handed out by pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence doctors to prescribe drugs they wouldn't have otherwise.

The cross-sectional survey of 154 general medicine and family physicians was conducted to determine why and under what circumstances physicians dispense drug samples, if drug samples lead doctors to use medications other than those they normally prescribe and what type of physicians use drug samples.

Of a total of 131 respondents out of 154 surveyed, 17% of physicians reported that they would dispense a drug sample to an insured woman with an uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection. Of those, 95% reported that they would dispense a sample that differed from their normal drug of choice. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they would dispense a drug sample to an uninsured man with hypertension. Of those, 91% said they would sample a drug that differed from their normal drug of choice. And, when presented with an uninsured woman with depression, 82% of respondents reported they would dispense a drug sample; of those, 49% said they would dispense a drug that differed from their drug of choice.

According to the survey, avoiding cost to the patient was the most frequent reason given for dispensing a drug sample. PR