Effects of sample medications on the prescribing practices of family physicians
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The purpose of this study was to determine if there were differences in prescribing practices between physicians who dispense free samples and those physicians who do not dispense free samples. Prescribing practices of physicians in three similar clinic locations, one of which permitted dispensing samples, were compared by physician and by group. The log containing information about dispensed samples was analyzed to determine the top 25 free samples dispensed, and these became the study drugs. Detailed pharmacy data including the name of the medication, number of prescriptions, number of day 's supply, and cost to patient was available for each prescribing physician's health plan patients. The majority of unique patients seen in each clinic were health plan members. Statistically significant differences were identified among the clinics. The clinic dispensing samples demonstrated higher average costs per 30 day prescription, higher number of prescriptions for study drugs, higher patient costs for study drugs and higher number of prescriptions for study drugs that were non-listed formulary drugs than the other clinics. Individual physician prescribing differences were also identified.