November 20, 2010

Lack of Placebo Standard Raises Questions About Drug Effectiveness

by Levin & Perconti

The improper use and administration of pharmaceuticals is a common form of malpractice. Each day patients rely on doctors to prescribe the right type of drug in the right quantity and administered in the right way. Deadly consequences often result when mistakes are made in this regard. However a new study reported by Science Daily raises more basic questions about the effectiveness of many of the drugs prescribed in huge quantities to patients across the country.

Typically medical professionals learn of the usefulness of medication through controlled studies using placebos. The logic behind the placebo-studies is clear: experts need to ensure that positive effects measured during tests are the results of the new drug itself and not the mere effect of subjects “believing” that they are taking a beneficial drug. Therefore, in these major drug tests subjects are never told if the pill that they take is the specific drug being tested or a placebo.

However a new study challenges the effectiveness of the placebo-controlled studies. It turns out that there is no universal standard for what materials are actually used in placebo pills. Each study seems to use frequently different materials. There is currently no requirement that those administrators of the studies report the content of the placebos. Particularly troubling is the fact that makers of the drug in question often determine the placebo details themselves—decision-makers with a personal stake in the drug study outcome.

The author of the study explains, “These concerns aren’t just theoretical. Where the composition has been disclosed the ingredients of the placebos have in some instances had a likely impact of the results of the study—in either direction (obscuring a real effect, or creating a spurious one).”

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti understand the importance of proper use of all medicines. This need begins from the very beginning, during the drug trials to test the effectiveness of these medications. We have been involved in many malpractice trials where the mismanagement of drugs caused patients severe harm and injury. Be sure to contact legal help if you or someone you know has fallen victim.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Study Finds Half of Doctors Prescribing Placebos Without Patient Knowledge


FDA Questions Deaths In Anemia Drug Study