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Ann Pharmacother. 2009 Jan;43(1):57-63. doi: 10.1345/aph.1L154. Epub 2008 Dec 23.

Perceived advantages and disadvantages of using drug samples in a university hospital center: a case study.

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CHU Sainte-Justine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



The distribution of drug samples is both permitted and a common practice in Canada and the US. The impact of this strategy on healthcare workers' opinions and habits is a reason for concern.


To evaluate the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using drug samples in a university hospital center.


An observational, descriptive case study was conducted in a 500-bed university hospital center between October 18 and November 1, 2007. To obtain feedback from the healthcare staff, our research team, which was made up of a physician, pharmacy resident, 2 pharmacists, and a student in health administration, designed a 26-question survey using a Likert scale (fully agree, partially agree, partially disagree, totally disagree, do not know). The questions focused on 8 different variables (rapid treatment initiation, free cost and availability, practicality of use, patient risk, pharmacist's role, impact on choice of treatment, storage and stock management, risk of pilfering).


In total, 39 physicians, 18 medical residents, 17 medical clerks, 83 nurses, and 23 pharmacists working in various healthcare units and outpatient clinics (N = 180) agreed to take part in the survey and fill out the questionnaire. Generally speaking, there was a high degree of variation among the professional groups in their levels of agreement with the statements on the questionnaire. For example, 71% of the nurses, 43% of the physicians, 71% of the medical residents, and 36% of the medical clerks believed that drug samples encouraged treatment adherence, whereas only 17% of the pharmacists were of this opinion.


Our results show that the perceived advantages and risks of using drug samples vary by healthcare provider group and in terms of exposure or nonexposure to their use. Concerned professionals must be provided with this information and strict measures must be instituted to ensure patient security.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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