The study involved 10,295 children and adolescents from the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. It found that almost one in 20 US kids received free drugs samples in 2004. The researchers also found that some of these free samples were unsafe for children.
Furthermore the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified four of the 15 distributed free samples as having fresh safety concerns. The drugs that were distributed for free include Strattera (atomoxetine) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine. Both drugs are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"New medications are frequently released before their safety profile is fully understood, and samples tend to be newer medications. Free samples encourage the casual use of medications in our children before enough is known about potential harm," said lead author Sarah Cutrona, a physician at Cambridge Health Alliance.
The study is published in the October 2008 issue of Pediatrics.