Pharmaceutical Faith and the Placebo Effect

by The Discovering Alcoholic on September 10, 2009

Original picture and story at Wired Magazine 17.09 reviewed at The Discovering Alcoholic

I’ve got good news and bad news from and for the pharmaceutical industry. The good news is that a huge number of very cheap and safe drugs are showing increased effectiveness in clinical trials. The bad news is that these inert milk sugar pills are beating out the industry’s research and financial intensive wonder drugs.

Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007—the fewest since 1983—and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills. ~ Wired Magazine

Wired Magazine reports “that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis.” It seems the placebo effect is becoming stronger and the pharmaceutical industry is at a loss to why… but not me.

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I blame this strange increase in the power of the placebo effect on the explosive success of drug companies and their marketing that has convinced a huge segment of the population that there is an answer in pill form to all their problems. Restless leg syndrome, erectile dysfunction, depression, obesity, shyness and even the terrible two’s – if it can be classified as an ailment, you can bet your next dose that there is a billboard, mag ad, web banner, or TV ad that it is touting a chemical solution. The church of pharmaceutical faith has a diverse flock from ADHD tots to seniors not yet ready to dodder and their faith is very strong, reinforced with marketing sermons on a daily basis. Mother’s little helper has turned into a fundmentalist faith, a concrete persuasion of the mind that regardless of it’s makeup… where there is a pill, there is way.

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