Inventory of Drug Samples in a Health Care Institution: INTRODUCTION part 2

12 Dec
2010

The management of drug samples in medical offices is not optimal. Pharmaceutical representatives often fill or update medication supplies without completing any written records or periodic documentation. The methods used for disposing of expired samples are unknown, although it is likely that samples are discarded with the regular garbage in some cases, rather than being disposed of safely, as required by pharmacists’ codes of practice (by incineration or burial, according to the relevant environmental laws).

Besides the advantages described above, the real justification for drug samples is the desire to influence prescribers and to increase the market share for recently approved products. No samples are offered for medications that have been on the market for many years, nor are there any generic drug samples. Groves and others conducted a literature review on the impact of drug samples and gathered more than 15 articles document­ing the influence of samples on prescribers’ behaviour. They found that of all the resources invested by the pharmaceutical industry in drug promotion, drug samples accounted for more than two-thirds. The use of drug samples, therefore, has the effect of promoting the sale of medications that are not necessarily first-line agents, the use of brand name drugs rather than generic formulations (which would be less costly for the health care system, and the use of medications that are not listed on the local institution’s formulary. Although using drug samples may appear to save the health care system and the patient money, the short-term advantages can turn into much higher ongoing costs. viagra plus

Many institutions, including integrated health care management groups (e.g., Puget Sound Health Alliance) and learned societies (e.g., the Association of American Medical Colleges), have recommended eliminating or limiting the use of drug samples within the health care network. Within the context of consultations on legislative renewal, the Canadian Pharmacists Association suggested that drug samples be distributed by pharmacies. The Council of Pharmacy Registrars of Canada has proposed various solutions, including blocking the distribution of drug samples, distributing samples through pharmacists, strictly applying the Code of Marketing Practices of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, and entrusting the distribution of drug samples to third parties. More generally, many institutions hold the view that current practices must be changed.

Few data exist on the presence of drug samples in health care facilities. The objective of this study was to evaluate the inventory of drug samples in a health care institution and to assess compliance with existing policies and procedures. canadian pharmacy viagra

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