In tests of a new migraine drug around half the control-group guineapigs fared better with the placebo
Sir, The results achieved by the two migraine drugs you report (Apr 23) will be welcomed by sufferers. You do not comment on the results achieved by the control groups, who were given placebo treatments.
In the first study the migraines were reduced by 52 per cent; in the second control group migraines were reduced by 42 per cent over 12 weeks. Had these placebo treatments been the main subject of the researches, the results would have been trumpeted from the rooftops.
Any medications developed from these researches will, as you say, need extensive testing, and are unlikely to be available on the NHS for several years. The placebo treatments, however, are available now.
Is it not time the NHS put the placebo effect to work? Pain clinics would seem to be one obvious setting. The extra costs would be virtually nil. The implication of “deceit”, a possible moral hazard for staff, must surely be confronted: the benefits for patients demand it.
Alan J Bennett
Bexhill-on-Sea, E Sussex
I agree. Placebo is a cheap and useful option for doctors and patients