Free Drug Samples Prompt Skin Doctors To Prescribe Costlier Meds

Michaeleen Doucleff | Natinoal Public Radio | April 16, 2014

Every "free" sample comes with a price.

Dermatologists who accept free tubes and bottles of brand-name drugs are likelier to prescribe expensive medications for acne than doctors who are prohibited from taking samples, a study reports Wednesday.

The difference isn't chump change. When patients see a dermatologist who gets and gives free samples, the average cost of medicines prescribed is $465 per office visit. That cost drops to about $200 when patients see a doctor who can't hand out freebies, a team at Stanford University found.

The findings, published in the current issue of JAMA Dermatology, adds to the growing evidence that free handouts may influence doctors' prescribing habits — and the type of medications people request...