Big Pharma Spends Billions On Samples

The new health care legislation now requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose to Congress the details on their use of drug samples in marketing products to physicians. The recent disclosure shows that Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, Baxter, and Abbott Laboratories gave out 240 million drug samples in 2007 at a cost of around $3 billion.

Drug samples and gifts to doctors are often the subject of criticism because of concerns on how they influence doctors' prescribing habits. Many physicians are aware of the conflict on interest and refuse gifts and drug samples from companies. Most, however, do not.

Pfizer provided $35 million in gifts to doctors in the first half of 2009 alone. It will be interesting to see what the new disclosure requirements reveal about pharmaceutical marketing practices and how they effect prescribing patterns. Contact Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP for a free consultation.