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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2069

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Adair RF, Holmgren LR.
Do drug samples influence resident prescribing behavior? A randomized trial.
Am J Med 2005 Aug; 118:(8):881-4


PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to determine whether access to drug samples influences resident prescribing decisions.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The authors observed 390 decisions to initiate drug therapy by 29 internal medicine residents over a 6-month period in an inner-city primary care clinic. By random selection, half of the residents agreed not to use available free drug samples. Five drug class pairs were chosen for study prospectively. Highly advertised drugs were matched with drugs commonly used for the same indication that were less expensive, available over-the-counter, or available in generic formulation.

RESULTS: Resident physicians with access to drug samples were less likely to choose unadvertised drugs (131/202 decisions) than residents who did not have access to samples (138/188 decisions; P = .04) and less likely to choose over-the-counter drugs (51/202, 73/188; P = .003). There was a trend toward less use of inexpensive drugs.

CONCLUSION: Access to drug samples in clinic influences resident prescribing decisions. This could affect resident education and increase drug costs for patients.


Ralph Faggotter’s Comments: Most doctors continue to claim that visits from pharmaceutical reps do not influence their prescribing habits in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.
This study provides futher proof that the medical profession is living in a blissful state of denial.


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.