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How to Get Free Prescription Drugs from Your Doctor

Updated on June 15, 2015


I’ve worked in many different types of physician’s offices—all of them have always been well stocked with various supplies and prescription drug samples. Hidden behind the numerous cupboards in your doctor’s office is a multitude of medications that are thrown away, usually on a monthly basis, because they have expired.

Of all the doctors I have worked for, only one office routinely gave out samples for prescription drugs. That particular physician’s office would often supply patients with enough drug samples and medicine so that they didn’t require a prescription, including birth-control pills—for an entire year.


Every doctor’s office is visited by representatives from drug companies, like Pfizer and Merck. In an attempt to promote drugs the companies manufacture, the representatives supply doctor’s offices with free samples, covering every sort of medication for every sort of ailment; the type of medications range from over-the-counter drugs to prescription drugs.

Pediatricians are well stocked, too. Their cupboards are stocked with baby Tylenol, prescription medications, formula, and sometimes diapers.

If your doctor is not utilizing the samples, they are being thrown away.

So, how do you get free samples of medicine and when should you ask?

If you don’t have insurance or prescription coverage and your doctor is writing you a prescription, ask if he has samples and explain that you don’t have coverage. Also, some insurance companies will not cover brand names or require a higher copayment for brand names. If you are one of those people that must use a brand name, always ask your physician for samples if it is too costly for you.

When physicians say that they want to “try” a particular medication to manage a chronic illness, like hypertension or high cholesterol, this means that you might be subjected to numerous types of medications before finding one that works. This can be costly, even with insurance. Ask your physician if they have samples of the medication since it is a trial.

If you or a loved one is on Medicare, you know that the prescription benefits are not the best. Many people on Medicare are on maintenance medication, medicine for a chronic condition, and are living on a fixed income. Many Medicare recipients simply wait to have their medications refilled until they are better able to afford it. A call should be made to the doctor’s office to see if the office has samples to hold them over until the medication can be purchased. It is never a good idea to stop taking maintenance medication, even if only for a few days. And since the medication requested is one that is taken regularly, no office visit will be required.

When you are ill and require antibiotics, your doctor will write you a prescription. This means that, while you are as sick as a dog, you are going to have to go to your pharmacy and wait for them to fill it; ask for samples. He should have more than enough to supply you with a full course.

If you want to get your hands on the Tylenol, baby formula, etc, that are available at the drug store but can hurt your pocketbook, ask the physician. You can also ask any of the staff members to check if they have it in the office.

Usually drug reps will visit a physician’s office on a monthly basis, sometimes more often than monthly. They will ask the physician what medications they would like on hand. If the rep doesn’t have that particular medicine, they will make a special trip back, no questions asked. If a physician runs out of samples, a phone call can be made to the rep, and they will make a special trip to drop off some more. The reps are more than happy to do this, because their job is to promote their products.

Remember, all of these items are going to be thrown away sooner or later, so you shouldn’t feel “cheap” about asking for it. And if a doctor’s office makes you feel this way when you ask, perhaps you should find another physician’s office.


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    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Donna Lichtenfels 

      7 years ago from California, USA


      Great information!

      I can testify that what you are saying is true, especially if the office doesn't have the medication. They can get it from the reps. While working for different doctors' offices, each and every month before the reps would visit, they would call and ask me what samples the office needed. I would always think of our patients' needs and ask for specific name brands of meds that I knew certain patients couldn't afford. Not only that, my son had asthma and every month they supplied me with my son's medications.

      In the last few years, when pharmeceutical companies are pushing the use of certain expensive meds, they also supply credit card-like plastic that covers copays for as long as 6 months.

      Doctors should always, always, always ask if the patient can afford their meds, otherwise the doctor hands over the prescription and the patient just doesn't get it filled. Sometimes the patient is too embarrassed to say that they cannot afford their medications, so wouldn't it be great if the physician took the lead in the conversation?

      Another way that patients can get assistance with the cost of meds is to go online to the company that produces the med and sign up for their prescription assistance programs. Most pharmeceutical companies have them...

    • Deni Edwards profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenifer L 

      7 years ago from california

      Thanks for reading!

    • htodd profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Nice Article,Thanks for the info

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 

      8 years ago from Maryland

      Great tips. It never hurts to ask.


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