Study: More expensive placebos work better

Here's an interesting testimony to the power of mind over body--and the way people perceive value. Researchers have found that a $2.50 placebo works better than one which costs only 10 cents. This finding, which is being published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, may explain why patients sometimes complain that generics don't work as well as brand-name drugs, even though their active ingredients are exactly the same.

To conduct the study, researchers had 82 men and women rate the pain level generated by electric shocks applied to their wrist. The participants rated the pain before, during and after taking a pill. Half of the group read that the pill, which was described as a newly-approved prescription pain pill, was priced at $2.50 per dose, while the other half read that the pill was discounted to 10 cents. Both groups reported strong effects, but 85 percent of the group using the "expensive" pill reported significant pain relief, as opposed to 61 percent of those taking the cheaper pills.

To learn more about the study:
- read this New York Times article (reg. req.)

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