Inside the mystery placebosDouglass is often pooh-poohed as a quack. I figure I need to be extra-vigilant if I am going to quote him. So I decided to look up this un-referenced analytical study. Is it a hoax?
Why bother creating a good drug -- all you really need to do is come up with a bad placebo.
Statins, for example, would look positively fantastic if you could somehow spike the placebo with strychnine.
Far-fetched? Maybe not -- because the truth is, nobody knows what the heck is in most of the placebos used in drug trials.
Nobody, that is, except for the researchers and their Big Pharma backers.
In a new analysis, researchers looked at 176 studies published in four major medical journals between January 2008 and December 2009 to see what placebos were used.
They didn't get very far: Just 8.2 percent of all pill studies and 26.7 percent of all injection studies disclosed the contents of the placebo, according to the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Think that's outrageous? That's nothing -- the real outrage here is that the feds have NO requirement at all that researchers disclose the contents of their placebos.
And if you think researchers aren't taking full advantage of that little loophole, well, there's probably a job opening for you at the FDA.
But all you need to do is look at some of the placebos that we do have information on to realize there's plenty of room for funny business.
Take the Gardasil vaccine I've been warning you about. [For some of Douglass' warnings, see for example, his report on adverse reactions to the vaccine released by the FDA only after a FOIA demand by Judicial Watch, the non-partisan conservative anti-corruption watchdog organization; or this follow-up from last month--JAH]
In one trial, the researchers spiked the placebo with aluminum, a metal that can cause the same types of nerve damage that have been linked to Gardasil.
That's a placebo "effect" straight out of hell.
In a study mentioned in the new analysis, a med for anorexic cancer patients went up against a "placebo" made of lactose. Of course, cancer patients are often lactose intolerant, and a lactose pill will certainly cause side effects.
And if I know that, you can bet the researchers behind that study sure as heck did as well.
Think about that next time you read about a "placebo-controlled" trial -- because in reality, there's no control at all.
It appeared just a little over a month ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine (October 19, 2010 153:532-535)--abstract available for free here. And though I have not read the full article, every reference elsewhere on the 'net indicates Dr. Douglass is accurately communicating the study's findings. The study authors themselves graciously conclude, "Because the nature of the placebo can influence trial outcomes, placebo formulation should be disclosed in reports of placebo-controlled trials."
Respondents to the study are a bit more outspoken:
It [is a big] ethical problem when the placebo in some cases now have been shown to actually have had adverse effects on these patients['] health, by not being acceptable zero point-standards for the actual medications on trial.There's more, but I will encourage you to read the comments for yourself.
. . . It is also of ethical concern when the patients having the luck of being selected for the "proper" medical treatment, have actually been subjected to medication where its positive effect has been overestimated, non-exist[ant], or even of the negative kind; and all because the treatment effects ha[ve] been compared to a placebo which was not a non-active zero-point-substance, but rather a substance having negative health effects, and thereby, in the comparison, ended up documenting a false positive medical healing effect of the medication.
Conclusion: We now have no way of knowing which medicines are being beneficial to the patients being treated, and which are having no effects at all, or which are actually having negative effects on the patients['] health.
With this report, the whole of pharmaceutical research have lost its credibility. It may or may not be a cynical act by the individual researcher and/or by his/her research group or leader. It is, however, not easy to make excuses for the pharmaceutical companies, since the actual research as a common universal procedure, should have been submitted to meticulous quality control by independ[e]nt researchers h[a]ving no bonds to the company, before a final approval was being given, and the medication was being introduced to the medical community.
This report is weakening the whole foundation wall of all pharmaceutical research. It is from now on not possible to trust any existing information about the effects and side-effects of pharmaceutical medicine. Unfair as it may be, this will affect honest and dishonest researchers alike!
. . . This kind of report continues to undermine my faith in Big Pharma and the FDA as caretakers of my health. How about you?