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Active vs Placebo

Active vs Placebo
C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.

I have often said there is no drug as good a placebo! That is, the “average” placebo effect is 35%. To be as good as the placebo, a drug would need to be 70% effective.

Here is a great example, from a two page ad in the JAMA, June 13, 201, for Viibryd ™, being promoted for Major Depressive Disorder. They even say “proven efficacy”. Here is their proof:

  • 42% change with the drug
  • 34% change with placebo

So this drug is 8% better than placebo!!

But look at the COMPLICATIONS? (“Side Effects”):

  • Diarrhea: Drug, 28%; Placebo, 9%
  • Nausea: Drug, 23%; Placebo, 5%
  • Insomnia: Drug 6%; Placebo, 2%
  • Vomiting: Drug 5%; Placebo, 1%

And of course it is too early to tell how much greater will be the risk of suicide on this new miracle drug! Just reading the ad is enough to make you depressed!


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