Monday, October 6, 2008

Free Drug Samples – Kids At Risk!

Children are the future of any nation but if a new published research is to be believed, free prescription drug samples distributed to children may actually be unsafe for them.

The study published in the October 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics reveals that children commonly received free drug samples from their doctors. For instance in 2004, one in 20 American kids got drug samples. And out of all those who took at least one prescription drug in that year, about one in 10 received free samples.

But here's why the samples are risky
  • The USFDA has identified significant new safety concerns for four of the top 15 most frequently distributed samples in 2004.

  • These four freely distributed drugs got new black box warnings or had significant revisions to existing black box warnings issued since 2004.

  • 2 out of the 15 drugs carry substances monitored by the Drug Enforcement Agency due to their high potential for abuse, e.g atomoxetine, amphetamine/dextroamphetamine.
Free drugs and samples are a commonplace within the medical industry and many a times prescribed to patients and kids from indigent populations to make drugs accessible. But this actually doesn't make them more vulnerable because poor kids are less likely to visit doctors.

However, most of the free sample drugs are new releases, and often their safety profiles aren't well-known. Experts feel that free samples might even lead to their casual consumption before their safety record is known, which could harm. In fact the NYT reports that Dr. Cutrona, the study's lead author went on to say “We need to discuss it more, and maybe consider stopping the use of free samples entirely, if there are such potential harms.”

Considered a marketing tool of choice, free drug samples while promoting drug use and accessibility, their potential to harm children's health can't simply be overlooked. On somewhat similar lines, safety concerns also exist about the increasing pharmaceutical outsourcing from Asian nations.

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