Monday, September 14, 2009

The Placebo Effect Treatment

During our recent class discussion on experimental design, I mentioned a well-known phenomenon in psychiatric medicine: the placebo effect. This is a situation where a patient responds as they believe they should under the influence of a drug, when in actuality they are receiving a placebo (inert substance). For example, reporting a decrease in pain after taking what you thought was an aspirin (but actually was a Skittle).

Last year, a study was published in the Journal of Internal Medicine that found 45% of surveyed doctors had prescribed a placebo to a patient during clinical practice. Obviously this raises questions about the ethics of using placebos in treatment (as opposed to simply in research).

What do you think? Is it okay for doctors to be prescribing placebos (and thus, in some ways, deceiving their patients)?

And, speaking of fake drugs, check out these:

FDA Approves Depressant for Annoyingly Cheerful (caution: strong language)

Progenitorivox: Best Drug Ever (just watch the side effects)

Panexa: Ask Your Doctor for a Reason to Take It

Thanks to MindHacks for the links.

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