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Problems with Free Drug Samples

Updated on September 10, 2013

When is free not a good thing?

With the constant increase in health care costs, free drug samples may seem like a great way to reduce costs. Manufacturers make these samples of brand name drugs available to physicians to pass on to their patients The drug manufacturers are not doing this to be helpful, however. They are hoping that the doctor will get used to prescribing their brand name drugs, and that the patient, once used to a medication, will be reluctant to switch to a cheaper generic version.

Getting a few weeks of a brand name medication free may wind up costing you thousands of dollars more than the generic. So, if the medication is for a short term problem , the samples are great - you can start without waiting for a prescription to be filled, and it will reduce your costs. However, if this is a long term medication, you may be better off asking your doctor if a generic version might be appropriate.

Children and free drug samples

The dosages listed on free sample packages usually are for adults. Parents who receive free drug samples from the pediatrician should make sure they understand the appropriate dose for their child before they leave the doctor's office. It is a good idea to have the doctor write down the instructions, the way she would if she was writing a prescription, as you shouldn't rely on the package information.

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Check the Expiration Date

Studies have shown that more than 10% of drug samples in physician's offices are past their expiration date. Expired medications may not be effective, and may also produce unintended adverse effects, so it's important to check the expiration date of any samples given you by the doctor before you leave his office.


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