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Letters: ThedaCare Physicians opting out of free samples

11:16 PM, Aug. 30, 2013  |  Comments

Beginning Sept. 1, ThedaCare Physicians clinics will no longer allow representatives from drug and other medical manufacturers to make on-site visits. In addition, our doctors and other providers will no longer offer free samples of prescription medication to patients.

We're doing this because studies have shown that "free" samples aren't free, and they lead to higher pharmacy and health care costs. We know that, insured or not, patients' health care costs are partially determined by what we prescribe, and ThedaCare's board and the communities we serve expect us to deliver better health at lower costs.

We're making this change because the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, has recently taken effect. The act is designed to make transparent any influence drug companies and manufacturers may have on medical providers. While the new law doesn't include medication samples, and for almost 10 years ThedaCare Physicians has had a policy limiting interactions between physicians and pharmaceutical representatives, ThedaCare decided to use this opportunity to completely change our relationship.

Patients want and deserve complete confidence that their interests are the only interests when prescribing decisions are made, and by making this change, we can provide that confidence. Other leading health care organizations have made the same change.

Some patients appreciate receiving samples since they cannot afford the medications, and prescription assistance programs can be time-consuming. In the short term, our clinics will do our best to ensure patients get necessary medicines while we help them transition to prescription assistance programs. We're working on developing easier, faster and more reliable ways to help patients get medications that they need at a price they can afford.

Thank you for your understanding as we make changes to improve the value of the care we provide.

Dr. Mark Hallett,

ThedaCare Physicians senior medical director,

Appleton

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