Dangerous Placebos Used in Medical Trials


  • Randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are considered to be the “gold standard” in terms of epidemiologic studies
  • Placebos are supposed to be inert but, typically, the contents of the placebo in a study are not disclosed
  • This leaves much room for “interpretation” when it comes to choosing placebos for studies and “sometimes a placebo is not a placebo”
  • Excipients, which are substances like coloring agents, preservatives and fillers that aid in drug delivery, are examples of substances in placebos that could have an active or harmful effect
  • When the contents of a placebo are not disclosed as a part of the study design, the study lacks transparency and its results may be skewed, inaccurate or misleading

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