No, they don’t.
In many cases, drug companies like to leave sample medications for doctors to dispense. In most cases, they are for heavily publicized medications, and are often expensive or on a high co-pay tier. So although these medications may initially be “free,” when patients ask for a refill, they will eventually pay more for their treatment course.
Matthew Mintz, in his piece where he gives tips for patients on saving money on prescription drugs, discusses one acceptable way to utilize medication samples.
“The reasons samples are beneficial is because they allow doctors and patients to try out a new drug before committing,” writes Dr. Mintz. Indeed, he points out that if patients cannot tolerate a prescribed drug, one month of medication would have been wasted. Trying a week’s worth of a free sample can alleviate that waste.
Writing for generics in the first place can avoid this problem altogether, but there are some classes of medications where there is no generic equivalent.