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
Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP for a free consultation.