Resolution on State Use Tax on Prescription Drug Samples Exposed

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The Resolution on State Use Tax on Prescription Drug Samples is listed under ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force and was included in the 1996 ALEC Sourcebook of American State Legislation. According to, the Resolution was re-approved by the Board of Directors on January 28, 2013. (Accessed on 2/11/2016).

ALEC Bill Text


Many states currently impose a state use tax on prescription drug samples, while at the same time exempting the sale of prescription drugs from this tax. Free drug samples gives patients the opportunity to try new therapies and begin treatment immediately.

This Resolution requests that states pass legislation providing a tax exemption on prescription drug samples.

Model Resolution

WHEREAS, eighteen states impose a use tax on prescription drug samples; and

WHEREAS, in the process of imposing a use tax, many states have also specifically exempted the sale of prescription drugs, pursuant to a written prescription by a licensed prescriber, from this tax; and

WHEREAS, revenue officials have taken the position that since the statutes refer to a written prescription, drug samples provided free of charge without a written prescription are not exempt from the tax, even though the sale of these products in a retail pharmacy would not be subject to the tax; and

WHEREAS, the availability of free samples provides an opportunity for the patient to gain experience with a new therapy and to begin treatment immediately, an important consideration when a patient does not have convenient access to a retail pharmacy; and

WHEREAS, the availability of samples allows patients with no source of payment for prescription drugs to have access to free prescription drugs; and

WHEREAS, many physicians have found prescription drug samples to be an important source of private subsidy for uninsured patients.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that legislation must be passed in the affected states to provide a clear and unambiguous exemption for the manufacture, use, storage, consumption or distribution of free drug samples provided to a licensed prescriber.

1996 Sourcebook of American State Legislation