I was all set to object to this piece on a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics that essentially advises pediatricians NOT to give parents free samples of prescriptions. What about all the uninsured parents out there? What about the insured who have crappy coverage? What about poor starving writers’ kids? Apparently, 80 percent aren’t getting the loot anyway.
The study by the CDC found more than half a million kids received samples of drugs the FDA later issued safety warnings for. That included 38,000 parents of kids under 2 who received an eczema treatment the FDA later said was not recommended for children under 2 anyway. That’s bad, yes, but I don’t see how a sample handed to a family was any worse than a prescription. The child is still being exposed to potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals. Without the samples, they’d just be PAYING for that exposure. Thanks FDA!
What the study also uncovered was that 80 percent of the kids receiving samples had insurance. So a measly 20 percent of the samples were given to parents of kids who would have to cough up the entire cost of a prescription? Isn’t the point of samples to give to people who can’t afford the drug? Technically, no. A look at any release issued by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America defending the use of samples shows the benefits to the uninsured are third on the list. The other benefits are supposed to be for the physician and patients as a whole – by giving doctors a chance to see what medicine works for what patients.
Sadly, I’m not surprised to see few uninsured kids are getting samples. Because I know more than a few uninsured who don’t take their kids to the pediatrician. Ever. My own physician and my daughter’s pediatrican – regularly ask, how is your insurance? When I tell the truth – it sucks – they usually pony up. And I’m not afraid to ask for the prescription cards that some pharmaceutical companies are putting out these days to cover a portion of the copay. Which gives me hope that the figures are a little off – 80 percent of those kids may have had insurance, but how good was that insurance?
Image: ABC News