Placebos Are Becoming More Effective

The percentage of new pharmaceutical products that fail their effectiveness trials is growing. The culprit is the placebo effect, which appears to be stronger than in years past. If a drug cannot provide relief significantly better than a sugar pill, it won’t go on the market.
The upshot is fewer new medicines available to ailing patients and more financial woes for the beleaguered pharmaceutical industry. Last November, a new type of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, championed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was abruptly withdrawn from Phase II trials after unexpectedly tanking against placebo. A stem-cell startup called Osiris Therapeutics got a drubbing on Wall Street in March, when it suspended trials of its pill for Crohn's disease, an intestinal ailment, citing an "unusually high" response to placebo. Two days later, Eli Lilly broke off testing of a much-touted new drug for schizophrenia when volunteers showed double the expected level of placebo response.

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.


Wired takes a look at how the placebo effect works, and the various reasons newer drugs don’t compete as well with the mind’s ability to affect our bodies. Link -via Boing Boing

Previously at Neatorama: Prozac: No Better Than Placebo?

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Maybe the problem isn't the placebos, but the test pool. If you have a large number of incorrectly diagnosed hypochondriacs in your test pool, of course the placebo is going to work on them as well as the drug you're testing.
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"Beleaguered pharmaceutical industry"...

Seriously? Have you seen their annual profit and loss statements? They don't exactly make my list of unfortunate souls who deserve our sympathy.

Frankly, I'm glad to see them honoring the results of clinical trials rather than putting out drugs that, oops, end up producing unexpected and unwanted side effects, like liver failure, kidney failure, or death.

@skipweasel. It's hardly gullibility. It's actually more closely related to the differences between allopathic medicine (where the symptoms of the disease are treated more often than the source of the disease) and true holistic medicine (where you take actions that support your body's ability to regulate and sometimes heal itself; mind over matter also fits in here, i.e. the placebo effect). The mind is a powerful tool. Try using it some time :p

Allopathic medicine has it's place, of course. If I have a severe systemic infection, I'm not going to see a holistic doctor. I'm going to get some powerful antibiotics and worry about replenishing beneficial bacteria afterwards. But for chronic medical conditions, holistic medicine can work quite well. And it doesn't have to be one or the other. You can use holistic medicine to support your allopathic efforts.
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