Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Placebo Effect is Getting Stronger, Say Drug Developers

The placebo effect is a well-established fact of medicine. In clinical trials of drugs, manufacturers routinely test their newly developed drugs against well established drugs and against placebos (pills that have no known medicinal properties).
398861 02: Bottles of the drugs Lipitor (L) made by Warner-Lambert, and Viagra (R) made by Pfizer, are shown February 7, 2000 in New York. Pfizer Inc. is buying Warner-Lambert Co. in a deal that creates the worlds second largest pharmaceutical company. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

The placebo effect allows for the power of the patient’s own belief in bringing about his own recovery. If the patient believes that a pill will make her feel better or cure her, it frequently will do just that—regardless of whether or not that pill is actually a sugar pill with no medicinal properties.

During clinical trials, if the placebo effect is as strong (or stronger) than the drug against which it is tested, that real drug is said to have failed and the Food and Drug Administration will likely not approve that drug for sale on the American marketplace.

And that appears to be happening more and more frequently.

Why would the placebo effect be getting stronger?

One reason, according to Steve Silberman of Wired Magazine, “may be found in the drug industry’s own success in marketing its products.”

Since 1997, drug manufacturers have been able to market their products directly to consumers through television and magazine ads. These ads tell consumers how wonderful they will feel by taking that particular drug.
We know how effective advertising can be to make consumers buy products, now we know how effective it can be in increasing the placebo effect.

It also gives us another example of the power of our own minds to affect our bodies.

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