Beginning Sept. 1, ThedaCare Physicians clinics will no longer allow representatives from drug and other medical manufacturers to make on-site visits to our clinics. In addition, our doctors and other providers will no longer offer free samples of prescription medication to patients.
We’re doing this because research studies have shown that these “free” samples aren’t free, and they actually lead to higher pharmacy and overall healthcare 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 cost than other communities.
We’re making this change now because the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, has recently taken effect. The Sunshine Act is designed to make transparent any influence drug companies and other 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 our physicians and pharmaceutical representatives, ThedaCare decided to use this opportunity to completely change our relationship with representatives from pharmaceutical and other medical manufacturers.
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. Many other leading healthcare organizations have made the same change.
Some patients appreciate receiving samples since they cannot afford the medications they are currently on, and prescription assistance programs can often be difficult and time-consuming. In the short term, our clinics will do our best to ensure patients get the medicines necessary for them to keep their medical conditions in control, while we help them transition to prescription assistance programs for their long term medications. We have already started working on developing easier, faster, and more reliable ways to help patients get the medications that they need at a price that they can afford.
Thank you for your understanding as we make changes to improve the value of the care we provide to patients in our communities.
Mark Hallett, MD
Senior Medical Director