Saw in Health Affairs Jonathan Han, a physician in Pennsylvania, discusses the conflicts doctors face when they distribute free samples from drug companies to poor patients. Han talks about the compromises he makes in his own practice. He says,
“doctors are damned if you do & patients die if you don’t.”
It is true that for years samples were easily given by pharmaceutical industry. European codes of Conduct..(I had the opportunity to discuss about them in a former post..) planned to limit the use of samples.
French agreement beetween the French Pharmaceutical Association (Leem) and the Economic Committee for Health Products (CEPS) stops clearly the sample use whereas before the law allowed 10 samples max per years and per physician (and on written request..) . The European way is to limit little by littte the practice of using samples…and international too.
the US Phrma Marketting Code (from 2008) just says ( page 14 – no chapter on that point – :
It is appropriate to provide product samples for patient use in accordance
with the Prescription Drug Marketing Act.
here is underneath the extract of theUS Code, Title 21 (Food and drugs)
§ 353. Exemptions and consideration for certain drugs, devices, and biological products
(d) Distribution of drug samples(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), no person may distribute any drug sample. For purposes of this subsection, the term “distribute” does not include the providing of a drug sample to a patient by a—(B) health care professional acting at the direction and under the supervision of such a practitioner, or(2)(A) The manufacturer or authorized distributor of record of a drug subject to subsection (b) of this section may, in accordance with this paragraph, distribute drug samples by mail or common carrier to practitioners licensed to prescribe such drugs or, at the request of a licensed practitioner, to pharmacies of hospitals or other health care entities. Such a distribution of drug samples may only be made—(i) in response to a written request for drug samples made on a form which meets the requirements of subparagraph (B), and(B) A written request for a drug sample required by subparagraph (A)(i) shall contain—(i) the name, address, professional designation, and signature of the practitioner making the request,(C) Each drug manufacturer or authorized distributor of record which makes distributions by mail or common carrier under this paragraph shall maintain, for a period of 3 years, the request forms submitted for such distributions and the receipts submitted for such distributions and shall maintain a record of distributions of drug samples which identifies the drugs distributed and the recipients of the distributions. Forms, receipts, and records required to be maintained under this subparagraph shall be made available by the drug manufacturer or authorized distributor of record to Federal and State officials engaged in the regulation of drugs and in the enforcement of laws applicable to drugs.
(3) The manufacturer or authorized distributor of record of a drug subject to subsection (b) of this section may, by means other than mail or common carrier, distribute drug samples only if the manufacturer or authorized distributor of record makes the distributions in accordance with subparagraph (A) and carries out the activities described in subparagraphs (B) through (F) as follows:(A) Drug samples may only be distributed—(i) to practitioners licensed to prescribe such drugs if they make a written request for the drug samples, or(ii) at the written request of such a licensed practitioner, to pharmacies of hospitals or other health care entities.A written request for drug samples shall be made on a form which contains the practitioner’s name, address, and professional designation, the identity of the drug sample requested, the quantity of drug samples requested, the name of the manufacturer or authorized distributor of record of the drug sample, the date of the request and signature of the practitioner making the request.(B) Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall store drug samples under conditions that will maintain their stability, integrity, and effectiveness and will assure that the drug samples will be free of contamination, deterioration, and adulteration.(C) Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall conduct, at least annually, a complete and accurate inventory of all drug samples in the possession of representatives of the manufacturer or authorized distributor of record. Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall maintain lists of the names and address of each of their representatives who distribute drug samples and of the sites where drug samples are stored. Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall maintain records for at least 3 years of all drug samples distributed, destroyed, or returned to the manufacturer or authorized distributor of record, of all inventories maintained under this subparagraph, of all thefts or significant losses of drug samples, and of all requests made under subparagraph (A) for drug samples. Records and lists maintained under this subparagraph shall be made available by the drug manufacturer or authorized distributor of record to the Secretary upon request.(D) Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall notify the Secretary of any significant loss of drug samples and any known theft of drug samples.(E) Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall report to the Secretary any conviction of their representatives for violations of subsection (c)(1) of this section or a State law because of the sale, purchase, or trade of a drug sample or the offer to sell, purchase, or trade a drug sample.(F) Drug manufacturers or authorized distributors of record shall provide to the Secretary the name and telephone number of the individual responsible for responding to a request for information respecting drug samples.
- GE Healthcare And Hamilton Announce Licensing And Collaboration Agreement To Automate Sample Analysis For Forensics And Drug Discovery (bioresearchonline.com)
- Free sample of Emergen-C (walletpop.com)
- Drug Discount: 5 Ways to Save at the Pharmacy (health.usnews.com)