Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What we need are better placebos

I've many interesting things about the placebo effect over the years. For example, there is the effectiveness of a placebo can depend on how it is administered and the nationality of the patient. As we Brits would expect, placebos have most effect on the French if given as a suppository. I've also thought there was a flaw with a clinical testing process where a drug was only tested against a placebo - surely the test should be three way - nothing, drug or placebo. If the drug wasn't better than the placebo, and the placebo was better than nothing, than surely the placebo should be used as treatment? I'd never had it satisfactorily explained by this wasn't considered best practice. After, there tend to be very few bad side effects of placebos.

So, I was delighted to read an article in Wired entitled Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why. Great stuff. Among the revelations are that a drug called naloxone can block the pain-relieving power of placebo treatments. Whatever, it does seem that scientists are getting to understand a great deal more about placebos. Good; the sooner they can start formulating better ones the better.

Thanks to the wonderful Boing Boing for the lead.

No comments:

Search This Blog