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Study: Unsuspecting patients prescribed placebos

October 27, 2008 by  

Is your doctor giving a real drug or a placebo?The majority of American doctors responding to a new survey said they see no ethical problem with the practice of prescribing placebos to patients without their knowledge.

In this study, published in the British Medical Journal, a placebo is defined as a treatment not specifically aimed at helping a particular condition.

Around half of the internists and rheumatologists surveyed said that they have prescribed placebos several times a month. Only 5 percent of respondents said they specifically told their patients it was a placebo.

Painkillers, vitamins, antibiotics, sedatives, saline injections and sugar pills were the most common placebos prescribed – in that order.

"It’s a disturbing finding. There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent," co-author Franklin G. Miller of the U.S. National Institutes of Health told the Associated Press.

The authors suggest that doctors may reason that prescribing a placebo – which may potentially provide benefits – is preferable to not doing anything. These drugs also help raise a patient’s expectations for improvement, also known as "the placebo effect."

Placebos are often used in medical trials so that researchers can compare their effects with those of active medications.

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  • Catherine Waid

    What an interesting choice…….do I want to pay for a useless pill (a “placebo”) that will not help me but will not harm me or do I want to pay for a useless pill (their”drug”) that will not help me but just may KILL me? I think my choice will be to learn about herbs and natural health practices that have served man since the dawn of time. If nature didn’t make it – DO NOT INGEST IT! This is why these evil companies are trying to pass laws that would limit our access to herbs and suppliments so that they can protect their profits. Go on netflix and watch “A Beautiful Truth” about the Gerson cures for cancer that has been suppressed buy the medical industry. But hurry – they will try to ban the movie too! Wake up America – you are being lied to!

  • s c

    I have a very simple suggestion for the AMA crowd. If you want to use a placebo on someone other than a hypochondriac (not in a controlled, clinical setting), kindly use them on your family whenever you get the urge. That way, you can have complete control of the situation, and you may not have to think twice about informed consent or violating something that used to be very important to those in your profession [i. e., the Hippocratic Oath].
    Is it me, or are doctors daring to do whatever feels good at the moment? Are these the same people who defiantly rely on drug information from drug companies [without taking the time to be up-to-date on current medical literature]? SHAME on you overpaid, arrogant charlatans!

    • Lewis Munn

      If the doctor is going to include a placebo, for experiments, or just because he feels like it, the patients in the study group need to know, and to be allowed to excuse themselves from that group and get all real medicine.

      And the study group should be paid for allowing the doctor or firm the use of their bodies.

      I guess we need a law to that effect. And not a legal placebo!

    • Lewis Munn

      It is not you.

      The medical groups are experimenting on humans clandestinely, and are suppressing a lot of information also.

      I know of a doctor who achieved marvelous cures with the use of tuned RF radiation, and there is a good scientific reason, but his equipment and records were destroyed and his clinic shut.

      And the world deprived of a non-drug therapy that worked.


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