Placebo Drugs: More Expensive Means More Effective

SHAFAQNA – A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the American Academy of Neurology, discovered that a placebo’s effects increased when patients were told that the drug was more expensive. The fact that common and branded drugs did not differ in their composition did not seem to matter, and patients responded a lot better to the branded ones simply because of their price.

Due to the sensitive nature of placebo treatments, the patient’s perception and expectation of the drug played a vital role in the way the patient responded to it. So far, the vastest documentation on the placebo effect concerns people suffering of Parkinson’s disease.

Chief author of the study, Alberto J. Espay, explains the need of more testing in the placebo department, and this report showed clearly that patients’ response to the drug was influenced by its cost, thinking that more expensive meant more efficient.

In the process of trying to reach a conclusion, the researchers informed the Parkinson’s disease patients that they will be administered two different drugs, equally effective in slowing the progress of the disease, but different in cost per dose. Patients were not aware that both “Parkinson’s medications” were actually just saline solution, and they only seem to react to the different prices: $100 per dose, respectively, $1500 per dose.

The patients received two shots of saline solution. After the first one’s effect “wore off”, the second, more-pricey shot was administered. Surprisingly, the second shot proved to have improved motor skills and reduced hand tremors more than the “effect” of the cheaper, equivalent shot.

Eight of the twelve patients who entered in the study said that a more costly drug raised their expectation of its efficiency. As the experiment needed ethical clearance, the patients were told afterwards that they actually participated in a test which studied the perception of placebo drugs. The so-called “expensive therapy” is so successful due to the patients’ expectation of being rewarded in the case of a pricy treatment, said Espay.

Even though the theory of expensive therapy could improve the response to placebo treatment and thus enhancing the benefits, doctors need more studies in order to find proper strategies for controlling the response. The final result might be able to increase health, while altogether reducing the dosage of drugs which otherwise have serious side effects.
Image Source: Infinite Unknown

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