Sample Victimization

Woman sues over unsolicited Prozac mailing. In my continuing coverage of the pharmaceutical industry’s lack of scruples, this takes the cake (so far). This Florida woman, who took Prozac briefly seven years ago but not since, and from a different pharmacy (although part of the same national mega-chain; don’t get me started on that aspect of the story!), opened her mailbox to find a free, unsolicited sample box of the new once-a-week formulation of Prozac being pushed by Eli Lilly to hold on to market share as the patent on the original formulation expires. The pharmacy chain that did the mailing — funded by Lilly to the approximate tune of $63 wholesale for the four pills — says it was only responding to doctor’s orders, and indeed Lilly had apparently arranged for an area medical practice to provide prescriptions to the pharmacy. A form letter congratulated recipients of the samples on taking the first step toward their recovery, after instructing them to stop their daily Prozac one day before taking the first of the weekly pills. Obvious problems with this picture include the fact that someone accessed her confidential prescribing record for marketing purposes; the lack of control over who received and opened the mail (children?); the potential public exposure of the fact that she was, or had been, treated for depression if the delivered package was conspicuous; the lack of any medical decision-making about whether a switch to the weekly form was medically indicated, and whether it was safe in conjunction with whatever other medical conditions she had or other medications she was taking; and the scumsucking bottom-feeding behavior of the MDs who Lilly probably hired to sign bunches of these ‘prescriptions’ for their patients and former patients. My question — for every recipient of these samples who protests and/or files suit, how many simply start taking the freebies, with or without stopping their existing Prozac (if they’re on it) as instructed in the form letter? SJ Mercury News