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Rep. Chu Introduces Bill to Shine Light on Free Drug Samples

April 3, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Devin Nunes (CA-22) introduced the Sunshine for Samples Act of 2019. This bill would amend the Sunshine Act to require companies that manufacture drugs, devices, biologics, or medical supplies to publicly make available the number and value of free drug samples given to health care providers and charities each year. The data would be posted on the Open Payment Database, a consumer tool that has already made public all fees, research payments, meals, and other transfers of value between the drug and device manufacturers and the medical community, but which currently exempts samples. The bill closes a loophole in the Sunshine Act, and does not prevent drug and device manufacturers from continuing to provide free samples, nor does it add any new burdens to providers under the Open Payment Programs. Reps. Chu and Nunes issued the following statements:

“In 2016 alone, pharmaceutical companies gave the equivalent of $13.5 billion in free samples to medical care providers. While these samples can be incredibly important to patients both for the purposes of trying a new drug to determine effectiveness or for helping patients afford high-cost drugs, there could also be a distorting influence to that many samples,” said Rep. Chu. “These samples may be doubling as marketing tools to influence doctors and patients alike, and so we need more transparency and data to learn more about the quantities of the products companies provide, just as we have for other possibly distorting payments from drug manufacturers. As drug prices continue to skyrocket, Americans deserve to understand exactly what is influencing drug pricing and distribution.”

“Transparency is of the upmost importance in order to have a vibrant market,” said Rep. Nunes. “The Sunshine for Samples Act of 2019 will provide useful data on how sample quantities distributed by companies affect the drug market in the aggregate.”