Study Shows Physician Sample Closets Are Filled With Expired Drugs

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A new study casts a light on a growing problem affecting doctors’ pharmaceutical sample closets.

The study, which was published in the new issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, involved researchers traveling to ten different primary care clinics around the Phoenix, Arizona area.  Those researchers inventoried the closets that were supposed to hold drug samples.  Samples are typically given to physicians by representatives of pharmaceutical companies.

What the researchers found was that an average 14% of the drug samples inside those closets was in fact expired.  12,581 packages were sifted through, and that 14% equates to a total of one in seven being past the expiration date.  Some clinics were particularly egregious offenders, with one clinic posting a staggering 30% expiration rate.

This poses a number of problems.  First, drugs might not be as effective if they’re past their expiration date.  This could in turn lead to an error in future medical care.  Perhaps the bigger danger, though, has to do with complying with recalls.  As many of the closets examined lacked some form of order, it could become nearly impossible to identify a recalled product.  At such times, it’s critical that doctors be able to quickly ascertain what lot numbers are in their possession.

The study’s co-author likened the closets studied to the mess created when Hogwarts castle was destroyed.