Monday, March 10, 2008
Expensive Placebo Pills Work Better
An amazing study published in JAMA has shown that expensive placebo (dummy) pills work better than cheaper dummy pills. Researchers from Mass. Institute of Technology (MIT) recruited 82 healthy people. They said they were taking a new opioid pain pill that had been approved by the FDA. Instead they gave half the subjects a placebo pill that they said cost $2.50. They gave the same placebo to the other subjects but told them it cost .10 cents.
The researchers administered electric shocks (hope they got paid for this study!!!). Of the folks who took the $2.50 pill, 85% said it worked. Only 61% of the people who took the same placebo worth .10 cents said it worked.
The take home message for doctors is that we shouldn't be stressing how inexpensive medications are if we want people to improve. Generic Omeprazole has been shown to work as well as Prilosec for GERD. All of us have had patients who ask for the "Name Brand" (read expensive) because "It works better". It may work better because of its effect on the pocketbook rather than the body.
How we communicate may have more effect on healing than the drug itself.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 11:01 PM