placebo

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placebo

(pləsē`bō), inert substance given instead of a potent drugdrugs,
substances used in medicine either externally or internally for curing, alleviating, or preventing a disease or deficiency. At the turn of the century only a few medically effective substances were widely used scientifically, among them ether, morphine, digitalis,
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. Placebo medications are sometimes prescribed when a drug is not really needed or when one would not be appropriate because they make patients feel well taken care of. Placebos are also used as controls in scientific studies on the effectiveness of drugs. So-called double blind experiments, where neither the doctor nor the patient knows whether the given medication is the experimental drug or the placebo, are often done to assure unbiased, statistically reliable results. A traditional placebo's lack of side effects, however, often identifies it, so an older drug is sometimes used in drug tests instead of or in addition to a placebo.

The "placebo effect" is an apparent improvement in health due not to any treatment but only to the patient's belief that he or she will improve (as by taking a dummy pill that is thought to be a cure). A report released in 2001, however, reviewed 114 studies where use of a placebo was compared to both treatment and no treatment and found no placebo effect with respect to measurable medical conditions, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Other reviews have found a placebo effect for pain treatments, and noted that how a placebo is administered can enhance the effect; a shot, for example, being more effective than an ointment and even more effective than a pill. An opposite, or "negative placebo effect," has been observed when patients believe their health will get worse.

placebo

[plä′chā·bō or plə′sē·bō]
(medicine)
A preparation, devoid of pharmacologic effect, given to patients for psychologic effect, or as a control in evaluating a medicinal believed to have a pharmacologic action.

placebo

1. Med an inactive substance or other sham form of therapy administered to a patient usually to compare its effects with those of a real drug or treatment, but sometimes for the psychological benefit to the patient through his believing he is receiving treatment
2. RC Church a traditional name for the vespers of the office for the dead
References in periodicals archive ?
In tests of a new drug to relieve lupus symptoms, about a third of patients felt better when they got dummy pills instead of the drug.
But how can we design a dummy pill or treatment that's better than others?
New-generation antidepressants such as Prozac work no better than dummy pills on many depressed people, new research suggests.
For example, during the dummy pill period, 52% reported moderate to severe headaches compared to 6% when receiving the caffeine capsules.
Researchers randomly assigned 122 patients with major depression, aged 19 to 60, to receive one of four treatments: 30 minutes of daily exposure to fluorescent light, 20mg of Prozac daily, both light and Prozac, and a dummy pill and exposure to an electric air purifier.
Some compared one statin to another, while others compared a statin to an inactive placebo, which is often called a sugar pill or dummy pill.
The participants gave up caffeine for 16 hours, and then the researchers gave them either caffeine or a dummy pill known as a placebo.
Sustiva plus Truvada (and a dummy pill, or placebo, that looked just like Epzicom)
The Commons Science and Technology Committee said the diluted products were no more effective than placebo - the same as taking a sugar or dummy pill.
DEPRESSED patients can show the same improvement by taking a dummy pill as by taking Prozac, it was claimed yesterday.
The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, involved the women taking either 20mg of tamoxifen every day for five years or a dummy pill.
The research, involving 3, 000 pregnant women, found that in those taking a 5 mg supplement of folate the risk of deaths from breast cancer was twice as great compared to those taking a dummy pill.