It can be difficult to navigate the world of medicine, especially when it comes to obtaining costly prescription medications. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on a medication you cannot use. Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) account for 3-6% of hospital admissions, and 15-20% of these ADRs are considered Type B, or unpredicted reactions. If you try a new medication or brand and it causes an adverse reaction, you don’t want to take it again, or risk a medical emergency. If you’re uncertain about a certain medication your doctor prescribes you, don’t be afraid to ask about samples.
Although pharmaceutical samples have declined over the last several years, they still occur. If your doctor’s office doesn’t have a sample of the medication you need, they can actually request it from the manufacturer.
Check the expiration date
Free meds are great, but they are less effective after their expiration date. The physicians in the office may not maintain the drug sample “closet”, and may forget they have specific meds until they’ve expired.
Take what you can get
Doctors and clinic staff will usually do all they can to help uninsured and below-poverty patients get the medications they need. A physician may send you home with two weeks or more of samples if they’re available. Take notes and follow instructions exactly.
Because some medications have become so expensive, samples may be unavailable. If there are no samples to try, ask your doctor to write for a 30 day supply, and try the medication for that time. Instead of samples, the doctor may have coupons for the medication you need, and many pharmaceutical companies also have discount cards to present to your pharmacy. For name brand medications, especially when a generic isn’t available, you can often obtain coupons and vouchers by calling the company directly as well.
It can be scary to start a new prescription drug--especially an expensive one that you’re not sure will work. In order to get the most out of your experience, do as much research as you can. Cut costs by shopping around, find discount plans, choose a 90 day supply, or split pills. Your doctor can help you decide what medication, brand, supply, and dosage is right for you.