Dispensing Samples Helps One Doc Care for Patients

November 28, 2016

While employed physicians often cannot accept samples in their practice, this independent doctor can and does, to help his patients in need.

The state I practice in requires that any physician accepting controlled drug samples maintain a controlled substance dispensing log. The log includes the date, strength and quantity of drug received, the manufacturer, and the person checking in the samples. Then, you must record the date sample is used and by whom, as well as the patient, quantity given, and remaining drugs of that sample on hand.

Quite simply, it's a lot of paperwork or computer time. Therefore, I do not accept drugs of this nature as samples. No tracking is required by the state of non-controlled samples. I accept a lot of samples as this lets me become familiar with the benefits of new drugs and give an adequate supply to a patient who really would benefit from the medication, but has no coverage to be able to purchase the drug.

This is very helpful with my COPD, hypertensive and diabetic patient population. The Joint Commission visits the hospitals in town and regards the offices of the employed physicians as extensions of the hospital.

These offices are inspected by the commission just as if they were the hospital itself. The commission requires tracking of all drug samples, even if they are non-controlled. As such, to do the work required, the hospitals owning these practices do not allow them to accept any samples at all. This greatly limits these physicians from using the newer medications and leaves them no mechanism to help a patient with financial problems with free samples.

Since I am not an employed physician, patients are the life blood of the practice and helping them provides encouragement to return to the office in the future for medical care. I use the samples for patients with financial issues to help with their medical costs. Male patients with ED due to low testosterone, hypertension, diabetes tend to ask for ED drugs. I give them a copay card but explain that I reserve the samples for men with no insurance and those that make a good effort to remember to cover their copays prior to leaving the office. Given the cost of these drugs a free box of two tabs far exceeds their copay helping to keep my account receivables down.