> But drug trials are not designed to measure the placebo response; they are designed to measure the drug against the placebo Absolutely. That's why the drug companies are pooling their data and doing the Placebo Response Drug Trials survey that I write about - to find out what's going on.
Drug companies are not exactly running new trials to make sure that their drugs are working this year as well as they were ten years ago. The failures of older drugs to beat placebo happen in trials in which an older drug, an experimental agent, and placebos are all pitted against one another. I doubt these failed trials will have any effect on patents.
Well, ceoyoyo, if you think major depression, the side effects of chemotherapy, and Parkinson's disease -- all cited in my article -- are just a matter of people "feeling bad" who should try "feeling better," I wish you great good luck in getting through the latter half of your life.
> turns out that the placebo effect is hugely influenced by beliefs.
Yes, it is. A section of my Wired article is devoted to that research, in fact.
Not "studies," ceoyoyo. Meta-analyses of hundreds of studies. That's evidence.
I'm the author of the Wired article, and I would encourage people to read the article itself before taking Peter's post on Science-Based Medicine as the final word on the subject. Peter's blog runs on two sites, and if you visit the other thread here -- http://scienceblogs.com/whitecoatunderground/2009/09/placebo_is_not_what_you_think.php -- you'll see that Peter's well-informed readers offered up many citations supporting my central thesis that he seemed unaware of, many of which were contained in my article. I know that words like "crappy" and "smackdown" feel really bracing to post or read on a blog, but they're no substitute for science-based medicine. Thanks for the link, ScuttleMonkey.
Wired is reporting that the well-known "placebo effect" seems to be increasing as time goes on. Fewer and fewer medications are actually making it past drug trials since they are unable to show benefits above and beyond a placebo. "It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time."
(Thanks for the link to my article, BWJones, which doesn't cover prosthetics, but does cover why more veterans will need them than in previous wars, and the pioneering approach of an Army doctor who is seeking smarter ways to ease soldiers' pain as they go through the evacuation process.)