The weird power of the placebo effect, explained
Over the last several years, doctors noticed a mystifying trend: Fewer and fewer new pain drugs were getting through double-blind placebo control trials, the gold standard for testing a drug’s effectiveness.
When researchers started looking closely at pain-drug clinical trials, they found that an average of 27 percent of patients in 1996 reported pain reduction from a new drug compared to placebo. In 2013, it was 9 percent.
Most instructively, the science finds that since we can’t separate a medicine from the placebo effect, shouldn’t we use it to our advantage?