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Placebos Are Getting More Effective 349

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the time-to-start-treating-with-placebos dept.
Wired is reporting that the well-known "placebo effect" seems to be increasing as time goes on. Fewer and fewer medications are actually making it past drug trials since they are unable to show benefits above and beyond a placebo. "It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time."
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Placebos Are Getting More Effective

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  • WTF (Score:4, Informative)

    by Xeriar (456730) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:01PM (#29340971) Homepage

    You keep saying that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. [scienceblogs.com]

    There are plenty of other reasons for this to be occurring. Better testing procedures among them.

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bistromath007 (1253428) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:11PM (#29341105)
      That guy seems to be ignoring the fact that the placebo effect, being partly psychosomatic, is something that by nature will cloud the results of testing psychiatric drugs as people become more trusting of their effectiveness in general.
      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:34PM (#29341379)
        The GP's article suggested another reason:

        He goes on to talk about how placebo has become a crisis of the industry, but I have another explanation: it's not "placebo" that's the problem. If drugs in testing cannot outperform placebo, then the researches have done a good job of testing the drugs honestly. If the researchers are failing to develop drugs that beat placebo and the company's bottom line is suffering, it's not the fault of the sugar pill. Sometimes it's either difficult or impossible to develop an effective medication. Failure is inevitable. It's how science works. If the CEOs don't like it, they have to either make up the data, or find a new business model.

        It's not anything to do with the placebo, it's that the drugs that are being developed currently don't do anything.

        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:48PM (#29341541) Journal

          That sill doesn't explain why placebos are now nearly twice as effective as ~1990, but this paragraph from the article might be a factor:

          Potential trial volunteers in the US have been deluged with ads for prescription medications since 1997, when the FDA amended its policy on direct-to-consumer advertising. The secret of running an effective campaign, Saatchi & Saatchi's Jim Joseph told a trade journal last year, is associating a particular brand-name medication with other aspects of life that promote peace of mind: "Is it time with your children? Is it a good book curled up on the couch? Is it your favorite television show? Is it a little purple pill that helps you get rid of acid reflux?" By evoking such uplifting associations, researchers say, the ads set up the kind of expectations that induce a formidable placebo response.

          The frequent ads from the companies are effectively brain-washing Americans to think, "All you need is a little purple pill to feel good," and so the mere act of swallowing that pill, even if it's just sugar, becomes twice as effective as previously.

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dintlu (1171159) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:13PM (#29341887)

            Alternately, the deluge of ads could be brain-washing Americans to think, "Without a little purple pill you'll feel bad," such that the illness itself is a nocebo effect, which placebos effectively nullify.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The frequent ads from the companies are effectively brain-washing Americans to think, "All you need is a little purple pill to feel good," and so the mere act of swallowing that pill, even if it's just sugar, becomes twice as effective as previously.

            There is a flip side to this study-

            The rise of the "effectiveness" of placebo's might simply indicate a rise in purely psychosomatic, and/or mis-diagnosed "illnesses"... therefore the data would end up looking like the placebo's are more effective when in fact it is simply that more people are either thinking they are sick, or being told they are sick, when they are in all reality, healthy. So of course an actual working drug would have little more effect than a placebo... because there isn't anything to cu

            • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

              by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Monday September 07, 2009 @05:45PM (#29344289)

              The rise of the "effectiveness" of placebo's might simply indicate a rise in purely psychosomatic, and/or mis-diagnosed "illnesses"...

              The great thing about this, in a properly controlled double blind test is that it doesn't matter. The real pill gets the same psychological boost as the placebo. Both pills have the same base line. Now the difference between the two pills is due to the differences in the active ingredients.

              This all sounds like total bullshit by pharmacological companies to escape from some cheating they were doing back in the 1990s or something.

          • by Locutus (9039)
            ding, ding, ding we have a winner!

            LoB
          • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

            by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Monday September 07, 2009 @04:12PM (#29343531)

            That sill doesn't explain why placebos are now nearly twice as effective as ~1990, but this paragraph from the article might be a factor:

            Because if you have an imaginary concocted ailment like restless leg syndrome or hyperactivity, then the imaginary effects of a sugar pill are going to work well to alleviate the imaginary symptoms of the imaginary disease.

            Pharmaceutical companies define disease these days. They advertise diseases and they push doctors to prescribe their poisonous ineffective chemicals to treat the advertised diseases.

            You could probably find a correlation between the number of advertised diseases like restless leg syndrome and this so called "placebo effect".

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

            by martas (1439879) on Monday September 07, 2009 @04:47PM (#29343823)
            a less sarcastic way to say that would be that confidence in modern medicine is increasing.
        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Firethorn (177587) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:50PM (#29341571) Homepage Journal

          It's not anything to do with the placebo, it's that the drugs that are being developed currently don't do anything.

          Did you read about how some of the older drugs wouldn't have made it past the trials today?

          I think this might have to do with the FDA's mailed fist choking off anything to do with 'snake oil' for years - we've raised generations that expect medications to be safe and effective, and therefore they are, by golly(placebo effect).

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

            by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:17PM (#29341931) Journal

            It's not anything to do with the placebo, it's that the drugs that are being developed currently don't do anything.

            Did you read about how some of the older drugs wouldn't have made it past the trials today?

            I think this might have to do with the FDA's mailed fist choking off anything to do with 'snake oil' for years - we've raised generations that expect medications to be safe and effective, and therefore they are, by golly(placebo effect).

            I love it. Gullibility by design (TM), the new prescription. The disturbing part of the equation is that price is part of the effect, so I'd expect that a 50$ pill could have a bigger placebo effect than a 5$ pill of identical composition, provided that the patients know it.

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Requiem18th (742389) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:26PM (#29342033)

            The question is not if old drugs would pass modern test but if old drugs still pass old tests. Old drugs not making it pass modern tests can mean just better tests.

        • Big Pharma, in particular the guys pushing psych meds, are certainly not the most trustworthy guys around. They frequently play very stupid games with patents and advertisement. They are not, however, releasing inert garbage. The new stuff is, like anything else, based on conceptual refinement of the old stuff, which worked before this giant public marketing machine was in place. The relationship between thought process and chemical mechanism is so nuanced that it is often hard to tell which one it's more e
        • Sure. Or it could be that the control group getting the sugar pill, is also getting prozac (or whatever) some other way, like, in their water supply [bbc.co.uk].
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:11PM (#29341109)

      Or possible the patent is no longer in effect, so no one bothered to fudge any data this time? Perhaps they were too busy "gathering" data for new drugs?

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:27PM (#29341299)
      The article seems to be fully of quibbles about simplifications or unscientific use of language rather than the overall point (which it finally gets to in the final paragraph).

      It's not unthinkable that placebos could be having a more pronounced results than they have in the past. In the Prozac example, psychiatry related drugs are especially prone to placebo effects. Given that the average citizen knows a lot more about these drugs than they did 10+ years ago due to ads and the media, they're more likely to believe it'll work for them than people used to.

      Changes attitudes towards drugs having an effect on placebos isn't something that should be dismissed offhand like that writer seems to be doing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      No shit, Sherlock? Guess what: We already knew that, and yet still understood the article. Because we knew what was meant. We took for granted, what you highlighted, and parsed the article in that context.

      You act like a typical white coat, expecting that everyone around you is an idiot, and you're the all-knowing god!

      So who's the idiot here? ^^

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by LaskoVortex (1153471)

        No shit, Sherlock?

        Sherlock was actually the sleuth from some fictional stories written long ago. So it's inaccurate to use "Sherlock" here.

        If I hear one more person use "Sherlock" in the wrong context, my brain is going to explode because they don't know proper usage.

        The term you are looking for is "fucktard".

        Learn English.

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bondsbw (888959) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:52PM (#29341597)

      The placebo affect can also be caused by pride. "I paid $300 for these pills, they work so much better than the generics!" It's the same reason that I can buy an expensive computer/phone/car with the same features as your off-brand, but still act like it's much better.

      But I'm sure that has little to do with testing where you don't have to pay... just saying, in general.

      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:23PM (#29342011)
        Exactly. The human brain doesn't want to be ripped off. The same reason why people swear that baseball hotdogs taste so much better, when they are more or less just the same things that you can buy at every grocery store the only difference is that you aren't paying $3+ per hotdog.
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

      by digaman23 (807313) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:08PM (#29341813) Homepage
      I'm the author of the Wired article, and I would encourage people to read the article itself before taking Peter's post on Science-Based Medicine as the final word on the subject. Peter's blog runs on two sites, and if you visit the other thread here -- http://scienceblogs.com/whitecoatunderground/2009/09/placebo_is_not_what_you_think.php [scienceblogs.com] -- you'll see that Peter's well-informed readers offered up many citations supporting my central thesis that he seemed unaware of, many of which were contained in my article. I know that words like "crappy" and "smackdown" feel really bracing to post or read on a blog, but they're no substitute for science-based medicine. Thanks for the link, ScuttleMonkey.
      • I see a fundamental issue with the central storyline, which is that drug companies are seeing a stronger placebo response in drug trials. But drug trials are not designed to measure the placebo response; they are designed to measure the drug against the placebo. It would be like comparing 100 different scales for accuracy, and then going back into the data set to try to discover any differences in the standard weights that were used. A placebo can either be a control or an effect; you can't run one experime

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dlthomas (762960)

      That guy misses the point.

      There is an apparent change here, evidenced by the fact that new tests of old drugs are giving poorer relative results while giving similar absolute results.

      It may be due to better testing methods. It may be that there was fraud in the earlier tests which has been gradually weeded out. It may be that people in studies are culturally more eager to please and so are (consciously or unconsciously) making larger lifestyle changes when they enter the study. It may be (as stipulated i

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You keep saying that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. [scienceblogs.com]

      There are plenty of other reasons for this to be occurring. Better testing procedures among them.

      Perhaps the real reason efficacy of trial drugs has declined is Big Pharma is trying to treat conditions that aren't actual problems? "Over-active bladder syndrome" comes to mind immediately -- stop drinking caffeine, only drink water when you're thirsty, problem solved.

      As the above URL observes:
      "Failure is inevitable. It's how science works. If the CEOs don't like it, they have to either make up the data, or find a new business model."

      I think the CEOs have done exactly that. It's pronounced "advertise di

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChameleonDave (1041178) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:44PM (#29342197) Homepage

      No, the guy who wrote that article is wrong. He is using "placebo" where he should be saying "control". A control is what you use to measure the difference between normality and the thing you are testing. In medicine, this may or may not involve a placebo (which means a "pleaser"). For example, I can give 1000 people my new drug, and put another 1000 people in a control group, with no drug. However, I may worry that some of the improvement in my patients is due to the psychological effect of popping a pill; I therefore may give the control group a fake pill to take, called a placebo. If I have enough funding, I may even have three groups: one with the real drug, one control group with the placebo, and one true control group with absolutely nothing. This will often produce three levels of improvement.

      A control cannot be described as strong or weak, but a placebo given as part of a control certainly can be. Although it is something designed to have no real effect, the fact is that every aspect of the treatment situation (the colour of the pills, frequency of treatment, the crispness of the white coats...) alters the strength of the pleasing effect, which can have major consequences for health and well-being.

    • by nog_lorp (896553)

      Placebo's were not invented for use in clinical trials, they existed hundreds of years before them. They refer to medicines given "more to please the patient than to benefit them".

      In clinical trials, it has been shown that sugar pills, when compared to nothing, alleviate pain. Additionally, different forms and colors of inactive pills have varying efficacy. There is also a correlation between price and efficacy.
      The effect demonstrated by this, the psychological effect whereby the thought that you have recei

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      There are plenty of other explanations, but PalMD has no idea what Placebo means. The placebo effect is a real phenomenon where people actually, measurably 'get better' when they are conscious of treatment attempts. How could we know this is a real phenomenon? Because certain kinds of treatment are less effective when delivered without the patient's knowledge: "The placebo effect may be a component of pharmacological therapies: Pain killing and anxiety reducing drugs that are infused secretly without an ind
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:02PM (#29340987) Journal

    Drug companies should never have started advertising directly to end users.

    • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:11PM (#29341107)
    • by T Murphy (1054674) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:16PM (#29341165) Journal
      I know some, if not all, Western European countries prohibit advertisement of prescription drugs. I would be curious if testing a group of Americans and a group of Europeans will give different strength placebo effects. I suppose other reasons for this are more likely than advertisement, but I would nevertheless like to see this be proved the reason (through an unbiased source of course).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I would be curious if testing a group of Americans and a group of Europeans will give different strength placebo effects.

        What the hell would you test against? A placebo placebo?

        • by PIBM (588930)

          The test for two population would be simply to find how what is the ratio of the placebo effect in each. With that I mean take the 2 population, for a number of different illness. Offer them each the placebo, and see, for each of the illness, what's the ratio of people that it helps. With this kind of test, you could even differentiate between type of illness, thus seeing if the advertisement or way of life were causing the most change.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:53PM (#29341613)

        It does. Read the article.

    • by barzok (26681)

      USA & New Zealand are the only 2 "first world" countries that allow such advertising.

      The US changed a law back in the late 90s which opened the floodgates for this crap.

  • Grunt (Score:4, Funny)

    by joaquin gray (596589) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:03PM (#29341001) Homepage
    It seems to me that placebos aren't getting better at fixing people, just that statisticians are becoming more efficient at modifying the numbers. Soon they will rule the universe.
  • Or not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by cloudnin (843721) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:03PM (#29341005)
    Here's an excellent rebuttal to this article by Peter Lipson on the Science Based Medicine blog: Science Based Medicine: Placebo Is Not What You Think It Is [sciencebasedmedicine.org]
  • Believing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:10PM (#29341083) Homepage Journal
    If we are easier to be convinced that that junk in fact is medicine and will heal us (and in a so strong way that it will even work), in what other fields are we swallowing "placebos" giving us the feeling that they work?

    The biggest problem is that if well our brain could control somewhat our body, i.e. lowering pain, in other fields reality could be strongly against what our brain feels. Unfortunately the only example that comes to my mind right now is the "safest operating system on earth", signal that im accepting all the other placebos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Yes. This is why we have a procedure we call "science" that attempts to take our subjective biases out of the equation. There are no shortage of examples where people have absolutely convinced themselves of things that aren't true.

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        Well, religion is a classic example that was there practically since we exist. But lately is what concerns me. What about all those ads with scientist lookalike people claiming something that ends being snake oil more than truth? If i remember well a bunch of scientists (as in psychologysts and other non weather related areas) claimed that the global warming was a hoax some years ago.

        You can dig a lot of papers, see certifications, other qualified opinions and so on in front of a "science" claim, or just be
    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Wait, are you suggesting that OpenBSD is safe through the placebo effect?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawpoop (604919)

      [I]n what other fields are we swallowing "placebos" giving us the feeling that they work?

      One of the big ones is surgery for pain - especially back pain. The thing is, you don't want to have people go through the risks of surgery just to open them up and do nothing and have them as a control group. Also, if you did open a person up and not perform the surgery, any doctor looking at the X-rays could immediately tell that the procedure was not performed, so no double-blind studies. So, a lot of surgical procedures are not exposed to the gold standard of scientific medicine, the double-blind contro

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:13PM (#29341133)

    People are more and more diagnosed with depression. A high placebo effect in treating depression is, in my uneducated opinion, at least partially indicative of over-diagnosis. While in the past only the truly sick were diagnosed as depressed, today perhaps some of the patients aren't really that depressed, and thus can be treated with placebo/happy thoughts. To what degree is depression caused by "wrong" behavioral and mental patterns, and to what degree is it born of a chemical imbalance? Of course, they may cause each other, but I do believe that some depression cases are not that deep-seated. If it's a deep, recurring or continuous depression, then use real drugs that changes brain chemistry and how the brain functions. If it's not that bad, a pep talk and placebo just might push the brain towards solving it's own imbalances.

    Oh, and I am/was depressed. Yes, I did use medication, Zoloft to be precise.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Patients entering a trial are not the same as they use to be. This is because patients actually have a choice in entering a trial or not.

    Let's look at multiple sclerosis for example. When the initial medications were tested (betaseron, refib, copaxone) the majority of patients entering the trials did not have the option to go onto approved therapies and there only hope of therapy was to enter a trial. Now, as a physician, if I have a patient who is at higher risk of progressing from multiple sclerosis,

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)
      That, surprisingly enough, was in the FA. He points out that the standard rating scale for depression, the Hamilton-D, was developed and validated among depressed individuals who were institutionalized - a very different population from the ones that the drug companies are studying now.
  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:21PM (#29341209)
    Soon, the only drug we will need in Placebo(tm). This is to be expected since it has appeared in more clinical trials for more ailments than any other drug in history.
    • by itsdapead (734413) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:56PM (#29341655)

      That is a dangerous idea. Over-use of placebos could lead to the evolution of placebo-resistant bacteria! Its happened with antibiotics, it could happen with placebo, too!! Worse, the resistance to placebos could spread from pharmaceutical placebos to more common cures!!!

      Be afraid!!!! The Pharma industry would love to destroy traditional placebo-based remedies as chicken soup, a nice cup of tea, a double Scotch or "kissing it better" so they could sell you expensive pills as well!!!! Its a conspiracy!!!!!!

      (Is that enough !!!!s to ensure that nobody thinks this is a serious comment?)

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        Placebo-resistant bacteria don't worry me: there are loads of ways of dealing with bacteria. But placebo-resistant viruses? The thought sends shivers down my spine. Imagine a common cold which can't be cured in a week by curling up in bed with a hot water bottle and a glass of lemon juice!

    • by JimBobJoe (2758)

      On a serious note, you also forgot to mention that Placebo(tm) has likely cured more ailments and saved more lives than anything that pharmacology has developed, except for antibiotics.

      We spend billions of dollars on pharma testing, and I always wondered, based on the strength of the placebo, if we'd be better off simply trying to figure out how to make that effect more significant.

      • by radtea (464814)

        On a serious note, you also forgot to mention that Placebo(tm) has likely cured more ailments and saved more lives than anything that pharmacology has developed, except for antibiotics.

        This is actually true: it's easy to forget that almost all of Big Pharma's money comes from stuff that is a tiny footnote to the major drugs of the 20th century. Compared to anti-biotics and vaccination, all this "blockbuster" stuff is in the statistical noise, and you could simply shut it off without materially affecting q

  • by JamesP (688957) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#29341267)

    Is anyone testing these drugs being used on the tests??

    Let's retest 'drug whose patent has expired' to see if it still works the same, so maybe when they find out it doesn't, hey, what about this new one?!

  • by __roo (86767) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:36PM (#29341393) Homepage

    A lot of people -- like the author of Talking Back to Prozac [psychologytoday.com] -- claim that some drug trials (especially for popular antidepressants) are compromised to the point that getting drugs like Prozac approved required requires a surprising amount of massaging of the data from drug trials just to get to the point where the drug seems to perform better than placebo. This New Scientist article from last year about how antidepressants' effects may have been exaggerated [newscientist.com], has a good definition of a particular form of publication bias [wikipedia.org] that is apparently common:

    It's called the "file-drawer problem". A study fails to produce interesting results, so is filed away and forgotten - a practice that might mean antidepressants don't work as well as doctors think.

    If that's true, then it's a gambit that would get less and less effective over time. Certainly, drug companies have a very large commercial interest in boosting the apparent effectiveness of their drugs by "enhancing" the results of their trials through selectively ignoring results they don't like. It does sound somewhat conspiracy theory-ish, but it seems like there's increasing evidence. Plus, if it's true that antidepressants are less effective than many doctors believed in the past, that's more evidence that the trials drew incorrect conclusions.

  • For me is that the original tests were "helped" to better numbers, as they meant billions of dollars in profits. Now the interest is not so big and so the numbers are closer to reality.

  • On the Flip Side (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RootWind (993172) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:51PM (#29341589)
    Placebo also has the most side effects of any drug on record.
  • Why would this be surprizing? The scientific method and the belief that your beliefs need to be examined and their truth verified are recent inventions. For most of human history the vast majority always believed what they were told. As rationality is dying out, due to schooling and various other factors, so is skepticism and science. As time goes on, we can all expect people to increase blind faith and achieve whatever natural healing their bodies can provide.

  • Bad Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ConfusedVorlon (657247) on Monday September 07, 2009 @12:57PM (#29341657) Homepage

    read 'Bad Science' by Ben Goldacre

    turns out that the placebo effect is hugely influenced by beliefs. So - if people are in a trial to treat mental illness, then the placebo will be more effective now than it was 20 years ago simply because people on average believe that mental illnesses are treatable.

    In a similar vein, Cimetidine (one of the first ulcer drugs) has become much less effective over time. It suffered a dramatic drop in success rate when the new ulcer drug Ranitidine came on to the market. It seems that as doctors stopped thinking of it as the best drug, it became less effective.

    No big surprise that placebos are working better in some contexts. It doesn't show that the placebo effect is generally getting stronger though.

    • turns out that the placebo effect is hugely influenced by beliefs.

      The placebo effect is entirely caused by belief.

  • Actual evidence (Score:3, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday September 07, 2009 @01:07PM (#29341807)

    Note that the only actual evidence for a more robust placebo effect referred to in the article is two studies looking at antidepressants. There are also a couple of anecdotes (from companies looking for a scapegoat for their failure) about Parkinson's and Crohn's, but that's hardly evidence.

    It would be interesting if there was data for conditions that can be assessed objectively.

    The article needed to be about two paragraphs and could certainly have stood to lose all the gushing about how powerful and neglected the placebo effect is. On the bright side, I see Wired is hiring people with no photography or design experience to generate their figures.

  • by Derosian (943622)
    Are more people than ever getting over diagnosed, or is the power of thought becoming more powerful?

    ...
  • I have suffered from chronic back pain for 25+ years. I was recently given a 'sample' drug by my doctor to determine if it was helpful.

    The first dose was about 75% effective. It eliminated some of the pain but not all. The subsequent dosages (which included increasing the # of pills) had ZERO effect on pain levels. I do not doubt that placebo effect accounted for the initial pain relief, but I am usually very logical and calm about drug actions on my psyche.
       

  • That is, if you are measuring drugs effectiveness to cure Measels, then a placebo will not be very effective.

    But if you are measuring a drug's effect to cure something like say Restless Leg Syndrome, then surprise surprise the placebos work WONDERS.

    When you have idiots defining healthy active children as suffering from attention deficit disorder, surprise surprise, a sugar pill (yeah, irony) works to cure them.

    This particular case, the disease was depression. Depression is a real disease, but it is exa

  • This is all very well but it comes from research involving Big Pharma products - bought and paid for!!! To test these new placebos we need some kind of control. Like, some kind of substance that has no effect on the patients so that we can use it to gauge the placebos agains......

    Arse.

  • by RatPh!nk (216977) <ratpH1nk&gMail,com> on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:44PM (#29342749)
    If anything the diagnostic criteria for some illness have been loosened, if not in print then in practice (depression, ADD, Bipolar, various allergies). Some "ailments" weren't really considered that big of a deal 20-30 years ago, or were at least considered rare (Restless Leg Syndrome, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, fibromyalgia). Perhaps, and I say this more to be devil's advocate, we are treating people with symptoms, or not, of diseases that they don't have, or don't really exists in the manner we think they exist. At least in terms of treatment. As such, the treatment is wrong (either by lack of disease or bad targeting), and of course would be expected to be no better than placebo.

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