(NEW YORK) -- The economy is forcing some patients with pricey prescriptions to skip doses, cut pills in half or even stop taking potentially life-saving medications. But many are asking their doctors for help in the form of handouts -- free samples of expensive drugs from the pharmaceutical companies that make them.
"They show up with their hands out," said Dr. Howard Weintraub, clinical director for the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Medical Center, describing patients who confess they "just can't afford" to take their medications. "Certainly you can see the frustration in their faces."
Like samples of cheese at the grocery store, free drug samples are intended to encourage patients to try, and ultimately buy certain drugs. But some patients say they need the freebies to bridge gaps in insurance coverage and offset healthcare costs through tough financial times.
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