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More Wisconsin clinics, hospitals ending free medicine samples

GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - More clinics and hospitals are ending the practice of giving free samples of medicines to their patients. 

Also, Gannett Wisconsin Media says some hospitals no longer let sellers of drugs and medical equipment talk to doctors -- while others do it on a limited basis to make sure the doctors keep up with trends. 

Hospitals in northeast Wisconsin say it's more expensive to give out free samples than you might think. Prevea Health Services of Ashwaubenon says 30 percent of sample medications reach their expiration dates before they're given out -- and the hospitals are the ones who pay to dispose of them. 

Also, the growing number of prescription medicine thefts requires a need for tighter security procedures.

ThedaCare says patients end up paying more for the brand-name drugs they buy, once their freebies are gone. ThedaCare medical director Mark Hallett says cheaper generic drugs suffice in most cases.  

It's same reasoning ThedaCare uses for not allowing drug sales people from making in-person clinic visits.

Some health institutions used to give out the free medicines to those wouldn't couldn't afford to pay for them otherwise. Instead, ThedaCare has revised its cost assistance program, while Bellin Health of Green Bay gives out vouchers which let patients go to their pharmacies to get fresh medicines.