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Free Drug Samples Could Cost You More

March 24, 2008, 5:37 PM by Jaine Andrews

Free Drug Samples Could Cost You More
If you think your doctor is doing you a favor by handing you a free drug sample or two, you might want to reconsider taking them. 

Free drug samples may seem like a money saver at the time, but a new study finds they can actually end of costing you more in pharmacy fees in the long run. 

The University of Chicago research says patients who don't get samples spend about $175 on prescriptions drugs over six months. On the other hand, people who do get samples pay around $244 over the same time period. Researcher call the findings curious because you would think freebies mean you going to save cash by not going to the pharmacy. 

The study didn't look at exactly why free samples push pharmacy spending up, but the researchers say it could be because sicker patients end up getting free samples more often. Or it could be that the samples being handed out are for more costly drugs because they're often more widely marketed and promoted, so once the patient who thought they got a real deal heads to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for the actual drug, they wind up spending more once the sample runs out. 

Interestingly, researchers also found that patients who received the free samples were more likely to be younger  and have private insurance, while patients with Medicaid were less likely to receive samples. The study appears in Monday’s issue of the journal Medical Care.

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