Free drug samples are regularly handed out to small children as a marketing ploy - and they are even being given drugs that have been given a warning label by the regulators.
Free hand-outs are very common, and are given to around 4.9 per cent of all children in the USA aged 18 or under, a new study has discovered.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School surveyed 10,295 children who were aged 18 or younger in 2004. Of these, 10 per cent who were already taking a prescription drug were also given a free sample, and 4.9 per cent of all children surveyed were given a sample, whether or not they were already taking a drug.
The most popular samples were the ADHD drugs Strattera and Adderall, but they also included dangerous drugs, such as Elidel for treating eczema, and the bronchitis drug Advair, which have a 'black box' warning, suggesting they need to be handled with special care.
(Source: Pediatrics, 2008; 122: 736-42).