Do pharmaceutical representatives misuse their drug samples?

Can Fam Physician. 1995 Aug:41:1363-6.


Objective: To determine the extent to which pharmaceutical representatives misuse their samples.

Design: Voluntary questionnaire survey.

Setting: A family practice office.

Participants: Pharmaceutical representatives visiting the office during a 3-month period.

Main outcome measures: Number of surveyed representatives who self-medicated, provided samples of prescription drugs to nonphysicians, or exchanged drugs with other representatives; classes of prescription drugs most commonly used; and beneficiaries.

Results: Of the 27 representatives surveyed, 16 (59.2%) have provided prescription drug samples to individuals other than physicians. Thirteen (48.1%) either self-medicated or provided samples to friends or relatives. Seven (25.9%) have exchanged drug samples with other representatives. Eleven (40.7%) of the 27 surveyed had not sampled prescription drugs themselves, given them to others, or exchanged drugs with other representatives. The most commonly sampled drugs were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Drug samples were most often given to friends and spouses.

Conclusion: Self-medication and giving samples to nonphysicians were practised by almost 60% of surveyed representatives. Representatives usually caution recipients, however, and there are very few complications. Drugs with potential for abuse or dependence and cardiovascular medications were rarely used.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Drug Industry*
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Medication / adverse effects
  • Self Medication / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires