Trials with medicines are always compared to a placebo. Alternative medicines such as homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture and allopathic medicine are usually tested against placebos. Placebos are simply sugar pills that contain no medicines at all. Not all placebos are sugar pills. An acupunture placebo may be a fake needle. Many skeptics claim that alternative medicines make patients feel better because of the placebo effect.
The placebo effect is a strange occurrence. It is where a person believes a medicine will help them. It really does not matter what is in the medicine. The person's belief in the medicine actually heals them. Many people belief homeopathy is a great example of the placebo effect. Homeopathy uses extremely diluted substances that scientists claim show no substance at all.
Pharmaceutical companies are now thinking the placebo effect is getting stronger. Drugs like Prozac faired no better than a placebo in recent drug trials. The FDA only approved 19 drugs in 2007 and 24 drugs in 2008. Most drugs are doing no better than a placebo in clinical trials. The pharmaceutical companies are spending more money than ever on research and development. Pharmacy companies are feeling pressure because of the apparent strength of placebos.
No one is quite sure why placebo strengths have increased. Some theories suggest that people hear about miracle drugs on the television. They are seeing all of these miracle drugs on TV, magazines and anything else they see. People are just assuming that they are taking the next miracle drug to help them cure their ailment. Pharmacetical companies own marketing may be increasing the placebo effect.
Another theory is that the mind is weirded differently than ten years ago. The human mind is always evolving. This evolution of the mind may also cause this increased placebo effect. The brain is mysterious and difficult to understand. Depression drugs and mind type drugs seem to show the placebo effect as well. The human mind is thinking that taking any type of medicine will alleviate their issues. This could help explain why prozac trials failed recently although they were successful several years back.
Pharmacetical industry is a billion dollar business. The stronger placebo effects could potentially threaten their revenue stream. Drugs that are already in stores are being flooded by cheaper generic medicines. Much of big pharmacies money comes from new drugs that will reach the market place. These new drugs can not be flooded by generics for at least 3 years. Big Pharmas are desperate to get new drugs to the market to continue to grow their companies.