High Price Tag on Meds May Boost Healing
We often equate quality with cost. Even when it comes to healthcare. The more pricey a drug, the better it must be.
And now a study finds that we even extend such financial assessment to placebos—people with Parkinson’s disease derived more benefits from a salt solution they were told was an expensive drug than from the same solution when it was described as being cheap medication. The research is in the journal Neurology. [Alberto J. Espay et al, Placebo effect of medication cost in Parkinson disease: A randomized double-blind study]
The placebo effect is well documented: people who think they’re receiving a real drug often improve, even when the treatment is just a sham. But why do placebos do anything, and why would one placebo have a greater effect than a different one?
To examine whether the perceived cost could be a factor, researchers told 12 people with Parkinson’s that they would be receiving two formulations of a new medication. The patients believed that one version of the drug cost $100 a dose, while the other one cost 15 times as much.
The results? Participants who started with the supposedly high-priced drug showed 28 percent greater improvement in motor skills than those who got the cheaper placebo first.
The findings could point the way toward strategies that enhance the effectiveness of any drug regimen…by making us think that the treatment we’re getting is the best that money can buy.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]