Medication samples

Pharmaceutical representatives often leave medication samples at the clinic where I work as a nurse. Can I provide a medication sample to patients?

Under federal law, nurse practitioners can accept and distribute medication samples to patients. 

If medication samples are being accepted in your practice setting there should be clear policies and guidelines on how medication samples are accepted, stored and used to support safe patient care. This includes whether your practice setting supports nurses in providing sample medications to patients.

The primary purpose of a medication sample is to market a product; therefore, all nurses using samples in their practice should consider whether their use presents any ethical issues, such as a potential conflict of interest. Medication samples also should be checked to ensure they are ‘fit for use’ – for example, that they have been stored appropriately, and not expired. As with any medication practice, nurses you are accountable to have the knowledge, skill and judgment to assess whether the medication sample is appropriate for the patient.

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Page last reviewed July 07, 2020