"It's a disturbing finding," said Franklin G. Miller, director of the research ethics program at the U.S. National Institutes Health and one of the study authors. "There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent."
"Doctors may be under a lot of pressure to help their patients, but this is not an acceptable shortcut," said Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull in Britain who has studied the use of placebos.
When I first heard this, I was appalled. But I know doctors are under incredible pressure to prescribe. I've seen it. Given the overuse of antibiotics and the state of the new superbugs I see a place for prescribing a placebo to someone who insists on not leaving the office without a prescription in hand (you may think I exaggerate, but believe me, I do not.)
And here's another thing, what about "informed consent?" Does everyone really have that anyway? There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who will take whatever the doctor gives them without question--in which case it really doesn't matter--and those who will ask the doctor and then their pharmacist and then still march right home and Google whatever it was they were prescribed before they take it--in which case a doctor likely wouldn't get away with prescribing a placebo anyway.
In the survey, doctors were asked if they would recommend a sugar pill for patients with chronic pain if it had been shown to be more effective than no treatment. Nearly 60 percent said they would.
While I am one of those who want information and want to be in the know, I see the value in the potential psychological effect of a placebo. In cases where there is no other treatment available, I think using a placebo could be considered a humane approach (unless some pharmaceutical company is making big bucks off your px.
What say you?