Sunday, August 01, 2010

Generic drugs, the placebo effect and the White Stripes

The placebo effect has been well documented in medicine. It takes various forms, in Italy (home of the Azzuri) blue pills are particularly effective. In randomized controls trials the efficacy of drugs are often measured relative to that of placebos. Sham pills, sham surgery and sham acupuncture seem to be quite effective at times and may explain the success of alternative treatments like homeopathy which is based on psuedo-science. Similarly, branded drugs have been reported to be more effective than generics. What people expect or have faith in, is important.
The most entertaining, if not the most erudite, discussion of this phenomenon is the White Stripes' "Girl you Have no Faith in Medicine" from their album Elephant. For example:
Is there a way to find the cure for this
Implanted in a pill?
Is it just the name upon the bottle
That determines if it will?

Is the problem you're allergic
To a well familiar name?
Do you have a problem with this one
If the results are the same?

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