Drug Samples in Dermatology: Special Considerations and Recommendations for the Future
Brodell, Robert T
Feldman, Steven R
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2010 Jun ; 62(6): 1053-61
BACKGROUND: The use of drug samples is a controversial issue in medicine. OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the pros and cons of drug sampling, and how drug sampling in general medicine differs from dermatology. METHODS: Literature searches were conducted on PubMed, Google, and Yahoo!. Articles were found pertaining to drug sampling in general, and for dermatology specifically. RESULTS: Numerous pros and cons for drug sampling were found in the literature search. We divided these by cost-related issues, such as the industry-wide cost of sampling and the use of sampling to assist the underinsured and poor, and quality of care issues, such as adherence, patient education, and safety considerations. Articles also suggested that dermatology may differ from general medicine as topical treatments have fewer side effects, are more complicated to use, and come in different vehicles. LIMITATIONS: We identified few studies specifically focused on issues relevant to sampling in dermatology. CONCLUSION: There are strong arguments for and against drug sampling involving both cost and quality of care issues. Dermatology-specific medications clearly differ from oral medications in several regards. We ultimately conclude that the benefits of drug sampling outweigh the risks, but give recommendations on how drug sampling can be done ethically and effectively, including limiting personal use, not selling samples, properly documenting sample release, teaching patients about proper use, teaching students and residents ethical use of samples, working with pharmaceutical representatives in an ethical manner, prescribing the drug that is best for the patient, and securing samples appropriately to prevent theft and misuse.
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