[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Everybody loves a freebie. Especially those “samples” you get at the doctor’s office, with the latest, greatest brand-name cures for your headache or your heartburn or whatever it is that ails ya. But a study published in the September issue of the Southern Medical Journal finds that those freebies may cost you in the long run. Because doctors who use those samples wind up prescribing the more costly brand-name medications more often than the cheaper generic.
The researchers tracked the prescribing habits of one particular group of 70 physicians. What made this practice ideal is that at some point it moved from one space to another. In the new place, there was no room to store all those samples. So no more free-flowing freebies. What the researchers found is that when the physicians were no longer under the influence of the free samples, the number of prescriptions they gave their uninsured patients for generic drugs rose from 12 percent to 30 percent. That means that when the office was filled with brand-name samples, the docs tended to write more brand-name ‘scrips. Which their patients had to pay for. So, in the end, there’s no such thing as a free drug. Which, deep in your heartburn, I think you already knew.