A Different Way

to look at Life, Health, Business and Politics

Half of Doctors Prescribe Placebos

Posted by Marietta chiropractor on October 24, 2008

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal indicates that HALF of all doctors in the US prescribe placebos to their patients.  Apparently, since a doctor can’t write a prescription to the pharmacy for a sugar pill, they recommend drugs or supplements that have no effect on the problem that brought the patient to their office in the first place.  Further, the prescription in these cases is NOT for the problem the patient is having BUT to make the patient THINK their problem is being addressed.

Naturally, this brings up the ethical question, “Are doctors fully informing their patients of what the doctor thinks there REAL problem is?  Or, are doctors writing prescriptions to simply keep a patient’s business instead of telling them they might really NOT have a problem?”  Further, if 50% of all doctors prescribe placebos INSTEAD of drugs, are drugs (or even doctors) as necessary as we have been led to believe?

Here’s the link to the article.

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2 Responses to “Half of Doctors Prescribe Placebos”

  1. Ed said

    I do not work in health care, but I think you are spinning the facts. Most physicians have probably prescribed a placebo to a patient. This is nothing new, there is something called the “placebo effect”. However, that does not mean that physicians only prescribe placebos.
    Also, prescribing a placebo is not necessarily bad. For one example, I took my son to a pediatrician and told him that my son was constantly clearing his throat (He was doing this for about a month). After answering a few of the physician’s questions, he told me that he thought my son’s ailment was a tic, and prescribed a placebo for him. After administering the placebo to him for about a week, my son was fine.
    I later talked to a pharmacist, a good friend of mine, and she told me that this is pharmacology 101. Thank God, chiropractors cannot prescribe.

  2. drtim said

    Ed,

    If EVERY one of those MDs prescribing placebos are telling their patients they’re giving them a sugar pill with NO medicinal value, then fine. However, for a placebo to “work” it must not be known to the patient. Experimentation in the doctor’s office without full “informed consent” is unethical, at best.

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