1. Health
Trisha Torrey

Placebo Prescriptions - When Your Doctor Fakes You Out

By January 4, 2008

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Has your doctor ever prescribed "Obecalp" or "Cebocap" to calm your headache, reduce your stomach upset, or relieve your pain? If so, did it help you?

In fact, Obecalp and Cebocap are placebos -- fake drugs. Obecalp is simply the word placebo spelled backwards. Cebocap is a name of a pill made from lactose. Lactose is sugar.

This week, University of Chicago researchers issued the results of a study showing that 45% of the internists surveyed (all Chicago area family doctors) have prescribed placebos for their patients. Presumably then, those patients took the placebo pills for whatever their complaint was. That means they took the prescription for a fake medicine, went to a pharmacist, paid for the prescription, went home, and hopefully complied with a bogus treatment.

Can placebos really be prescribed? Can patients purchase fake pills at a pharmacy? They most certainly can. Walgreens, CVS, and others have them listed -- in several colors -- on their websites.

From the report, "Of the respondents who reported using placebos in clinical practice, 34 percent introduced the placebos to the patient as "a substance that may help and will not hurt." Nineteen percent said, "it is medication," and nine percent said, "it is medicine with no specific effect." Only four percent of the physicians explicitly said, "it is a placebo." In addition, 33 percent of the physicians reported they gave other information to patients, including, "this may help you but I am not sure how it works."

What's your immediate reaction to this information? Are you angered? Are you wondering whether any of the bottles in your medicine cabinet are placebos? Are you simply surprised that I would even raise this issue?

Here's the real surprise: Sometimes, often enough to be counted, placebos work to help the patient. Despite the fact that there is no real medicine being ingested, patients feel better. Their pain or other symptoms go away. Even in carefully controlled clinical trials where placebos have been used as the control in the experiment, some patients improve simply because they think they are getting the real medicine.

That effect -- the placebo effect -- is now front and center in discussions of the mind-body connection. Western medicine (as opposed to Eastern, usually more alternative medicine) is just now beginning to embrace this mind-body connection as having real therapeutic value.

However, the use of placebos for therapeutic reasons (as a way to treat patients), is fraught with ethical questions and implications:

  • How does the doctor expect the patient's health to improve with fake sugar pills? What's the difference in effect between telling a patient they are fake, vs suggesting they are real medicine?
  • Is the doctor simply defaulting to thinking the patient's problems are all in her head?
  • What if a patient is really having a heart attack but gets sent home with a fake prescription?
  • If someone dies because they were misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, does prescribing a placebo set the doctor up for a malpractice suit?

And what's my take on this study? It's this: In most cases, I think a placebo prescription is a cop out. Yes, I understand that sometimes they will help a patient -- and that's the bottom line, afterall. But there is a reason a patient has pain, regardless of whether it is real physical pain, or pain imagined -- it's still pain. That's true for other symptoms, too. By providing a script for a placebo, the doctor has made a decision that the root of the symptoms isn't important enough to warrant study, or further study.

Either that, or the doctor has decided that the patient has made up the malady -- it's all in her head. And that deduction is used way too frequently, according to the email I receive from patients every day.

There are already enough challenges to the rapport and trust issues between patients and doctors. Knowing now that 45% of primary care doctors are simply dismissing patients with fake medicine -- and that the patients and their insurance are paying for fake medicine, too -- does nothing to improve that trust, regardless of the positive or negative affects on a patient's health.

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Comments
January 7, 2008 at 1:43 am
(1) Michael says:

95% of patients who go to their doctor get better on their own. They have pulled muscles, they have colds, they are just overweight, out of shape and overdid it. Sometimes, they just are getting old.

Sure, your doctor could skip the reassuring talk and the “placebo” prescription. He could order $1000 worth of tests to “get to the bottom of it…” knowing full well that those tests will never show anything 95% of the time.

Or he could do what is best for YOU. He could take the wait and see approach when your symptoms and exam don’t worry him.

Wait and see and 95% get better. 5% follow up and get further testing.

Welcome to medicine 101.

If every physician in this country failed Medicine 101, there would be so many tests ordered, it would take 4 months just to get a blood test. It would also increase each and every person’s medical insurance rates by thousands of dollars a year.

Then we could all write opinions about why doctors are driving up the cost of everyone’s health insurance.

February 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm
(2) LoveRiot says:

How can we find out if what we were precribed is a placebo or not?

If we call a pharmacy, are they required to disclose it if we ask?

February 26, 2008 at 9:27 pm
(3) LoveRiot says:

How can we find out if a prescription is a placebo or not? If we call a pharmacy, would they be required to disclose that?

February 27, 2008 at 2:25 pm
(4) patients says:

LoveRiot,

Get the name of the drug you were prescribed and look it up on the internet. Here’s a good place to begin: http://drugsaz.about.com/

If it’s not listed there, do a general google search (or any other search engine). It should tell you what the components of the drug are.

Once you have that background information, if you still have a question, I would contact both the pharmacist and your doctor to ask.

Best of luck.

April 18, 2008 at 8:25 pm
(5) tim smith says:

i recently switched orthos because I suspected the first thouhgt my pain was in my head. I still have pain but also to be honest part of it may be my fault. i would see others who were worse off and feel quilty for complaining. Only when things were really bad would I complain. How do I explain pain that is worse at some times than others or times when I have no pain?

October 24, 2008 at 11:51 am
(6) Susan says:

I’m a grown up. I can handle the truth. Just be honest with me, and tell me “this is just a placebo”.

If a patient *THINKS* he’s having heart attacks all the time (when he really isn’t) that problem *ALSO* needs to be addressed. (Not just ignored with a placebo.)

October 25, 2008 at 6:01 pm
(7) sciquest says:

I would like to know if placebo effect ever causes physicians to discount real medical problems. In other words, suppose I have real pain due to a real physical condition, but the placebo causes my powerful mind-over-matter effect to kick in, temporarily relieving the pain I’m feeling. Does the doctor say, aha! Proof there’s nothing wrong with this patient?

This effect is well documented in cases of so-called faith-healing. Often, the faith-healed do in fact feel better temporarily, causing them to believe they have been healed, but the effect is not lasting, sometimes resulting in life-threatening delays in real treatment.

March 31, 2010 at 11:52 am
(8) Zejith Themis says:

another ethical implication:

doc says:
“just take this (fake) pill (that costs like a real one) and go about your business (without getting any rest, taking time off from work, etc).”

As you get worse you need more medicines.

Big Pharma does a happy dance.

and… scene.

May 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm
(9) TJRPh says:

It really makes me mad when people so blatently misrepresent the truth. As a Registered Pharmacist I can assure you that it EXTREMELY rare for a physician to prescribe placebos. Cebocaps (described in the article) aren’t carried by any major chain pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Jewel, etc.). I’ve been a pharmacist for 10 years, and have worked as a technician for 5 years before, and I have NEVER seen a single prescription for it. This is not to say that physicians don’t prescribe placebo’s. When they do, however they just substitute a drug that is very safe and is unlikely to cause any major side-effects. Folic acid and other prescription supplements usually fit the bill. Tylenol is also basically a placebo (albeit a VERY dangerous one). Unfortunately, some physicians even use antibiotics in this way, directly contributing to antibiotic resistance.
Unfortunately (as noted above), few problems that cause people to see their doctor are actually treatable, and patients tend to get very angry when they leave the doctor’s office with nothing in hand. Physicians use these
to prevent this conflict.
In any event Cebocaps are a thing of the past, and the only reason they’re shown online on a number of pharmacy’s websites is so they can be easily identified if someone finds one in their deep, dark medicine cabinet and wants to know what it is. I can’t speak for every state, but they’re not even legal in Michigan.
To the writer of this article: Your facts are not supported by documentation, your reasoning is specious, and your article is the worst kind of populist tripe.

May 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm
(10) Trisha Torrey says:

TJRPh — re: “Your facts are not supported by documentation”

It was actually documentation – in the form of the results of a study done at the University of Chicago, cited above, that compelled me to post this information. It was THEIR conclusion, and reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine – that placebos are being used by 45% of internists.

Further, just this past week I did an interview with a physician for my radio show — a psychiatrist — and we discussed the placebo effect, which as I’m sure you know, can be very powerful. He mentioned Obecalp and Cebocap — so while you may not be seeing them in Michigan, I can tell you they are being prescribed in other parts of the country.

In truth — it makes no difference what the drug is called. If it has no active or useful ingredients, then one of two things will happen: either the patient’s health will improve – or it won’t. If it does, that’s great and the patient will have been well-served, whether or not a fake drug helped him get there.

But if the doctor prescribes a placebo, and the patient does not get better, then we have to question the motives of the prescribing doctor. Period.

May 28, 2010 at 10:54 am
(11) TJRPh says:

Oh really? What pharmacy did the patient find to fill this alleged prescription? My guess is that the patient took this prescription to their neighborhood CVS (or Walgreens or whatever), and the pharmacist probably said something to the effect of, “this doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s a placebo anyway.” Pharmacists are not in the business of lying to patients, and just because a physician writes a prescription for a product, it does not follow that the product exists. I saw a prescription for the drug Vioxx that was written just a week ago. (Vioxx was taken off the market by Merck in 2004).

Also, if a physician diagnoses a condition that will not improve on its own, or that is treatable by medicine, he certainly won’t prescribe a placebo. I’m not speaking of misdiagnoses. That is a completely different situation, but what you’re implying that a physician will intentionally prescribe a placebo to a patient who they know should be receiving active treatment. What possible motive could a physician have for doing this? They don’t like the patient and want them to die? Maybe they’re trying to get sued? This simply doesn’t make sense. If there’s an effective treatment for the condition that the physician diagnoses, the patient will get it.

Either way, the patient is NOT missing out on effective treatment. The huge amount of money that scam artists make by selling fake diet pills and erectile dysfunction pills that are placebos (and maybe some caffeine for good measure), and the fact that they get repeat business says something very powerful about The Placebo Effect.

So really, it’s not the end of the story.

May 29, 2010 at 1:13 am
(12) Heather says:

SO..How can I tell if my medicine is a placebo???

May 29, 2010 at 6:50 am
(13) Trisha Torrey says:

Heather,

To determine whether your prescription is a placebo:

1. Ask your pharmacist – which you can do by asking what the active ingredient is, and what effect the active ingredient should have on your body. Or simply ask whether the pharmacist thinks it was prescribed by your doctor for its placebo effect!

2. If it’s called Obecalp or Cebocap (see post above) then it’s a known placebo.

3. Read the materials provided with the prescription. If it’s still unclear, then look up the ingredients online.

August 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm
(14) krankepants says:

I believe the study, or questionaire, suggested that 45% of the doctors HAD prescribed placebos, not that they nessessarily do it all the time.

December 12, 2010 at 12:00 am
(15) AMELIA says:

Dear Ms. Torrey, with disgust i read what you write ! As it says in your bio, your work is broad , dare i say probably too broad to understand the finesse of the placebo effect and how it works ! Let me educate just for a second:
- telling a patient the truth ( placebo) would cancel the effect, so no point to take it, because an important component of the placebo effect is the patient’s expectation; suggestion is also very important because it is also related to expectancy ; actually everything that happens between doctor and patient ( words, touch, social interaction etc) contribute to the production of the placebo effect
-by the way, except reflexes, everything happens in our heads, so the doctor is not at fault in believing that an articular pain is IN THE HEAD; if not so, why famous surgeon stated that placebo/sham knee surgery works as well as real surgery ?
- lack of diagnosis or misdiagnosis happen every day because there are still so many things we don’t know or the doctors are not careful; let me remind you that most placeboes are pristine clean and therefore there will be no real drug effect; the doctor would be at fault for other issues that prescribing sugar pills ; or you could think about it this way: if he cannot diagnose, better give a placebo and have less chance of error;same for wrong diagnosis, so your question on the legal issue is just misleading, for ignorant people!

December 12, 2010 at 12:11 am
(16) AMELIA says:

Just to be overly simplistic because there are actually hundreds of scientific papers on the placebo effect its mechanisms and also ethical issues! As TJRPh says people spend thousands of dollars on bogus pills that promise to slim them down over the night ( which are not all placeboes because they have actual potential dangerous chemicals) but they are too scared to trust their doctor when deciding that an empty pill and a good word would be better for their mild depression (eg) because 34 millions americans are taking anti depressives for mild depression ( chemicals) when it has been proved that they work as well as a placebo ! Have you ever thought that probably some ethical issues are wrongly addressed?

December 12, 2010 at 12:21 am
(17) LOL says:

Probably it would help ms Trisha to get a medical degree! Sorry, but to help other you must understand a lot of things about the medical world! Any one could search Google and journals!

January 3, 2011 at 12:21 am
(18) SHERRY says:

I am starting to believe I am completely gullible and have no clue what anyone does. Of course the good in me wants to believe that everyone else is just as good! ;)

I will say this, I have never in my life been more frustrated 3 years ago. A young mother of four, headaches that I’ve never experienced before, nausea, vomiting, dizziness that lasted for HOURS not seconds, and blurred vision. I went to several doctors, I had all the tests…MRI’s, CT scans, etc,… Everything kept coming back completely normal! It took 9 months of hearing “normal” for me to decide that maybe it was my eye’s and I needed a new prescription for glasses. My opthamologist immedietly called a Neuro-Ophamologist after seeing how swollen my optic nerves were. I was rushed to a hospital, given a spinal tap with a pressure of 68. Normal pressures are between 15-22. For 18 months, I would require a spinal tap to drain Cerebral spinal fluid that my body didn’t absorb. I finally received a shunt in my brain to eliminate LP’s.

My frustration was beyond frustrating! I had been a healthy mother of four, active and normal. Every month or so, I’d get a headache attributed to hormones…nothing more. I KNEW something was wrong, yet no one was listening to my cries for over 9 mo. Everytime I went to a new doctor, I would beg, and they would tell me they didn’t find anything!

If they are constant complaining, at the very least, they have a mental issue that needs some attention!

One time, I knew that I needed a spinal tap, I could feel my body quickly spiraling back into that dark place….I confronted my neurologist, and he didn’t believe my pressures were high (the only way to tell is a tap) I begged to differ, he admitted me, I had a pressure of 57, he apologized and told me he would never doubt me again! lol

January 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm
(19) John says:

Here’s an excerpt from a (slightly) less misleading article:

• 45 per cent reported they had used a placebo in clinical practice.
• Among those, the most common practice — at 33 per cent — was prescribing antibiotics for viral or other nonbacterial diagnoses.
• 20 per cent had prescribed vitamins, 7 per cent subtherapeutic doses of medication, and 5 per cent herbal supplements, while only 2 per cent had actually given prepared placebo tablets and only 1 per cent had prescribed sugar or artificial sweetener pills.
• The most common reasons given were to calm the patient and as supplemental treatment, at 18 per cent each.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/248573#ixzz1CZQ2FPDb

Note that 33% of the “placebos” were actually antibiotics prescribed for viral or nonbacterial illnesses. If you have a viral illness that cannot be treated with antivirals, guess what the best medication is? NOTHING(It’s amazing…the human body has something called an immune system!). However, fearful parents or uneducated individuals such as Ms. Torrey may spring into action and claim that physicians are doing nothing while their patients suffer. So the alternative is that the physician appeases the patient and prescribes the antibiotic, and this is what they are referring to as the placebo in 33% of the cases. They are not misleading the patient; the patient is simply (tb continued)

January 30, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(20) John says:

too obstinate to listen to the physician and realize that the best treatment for certain viral illnesses is to REST and allow your immune system to fight off the virus.

Perhaps the most related figure that you OMITTED from your “article” is that only 1% had prescribed sugar pills. You have failed your journalistic Hippocratic oath via omission. Your other statements are misleading. “45% of primary care doctors are simply dismissing patients with fake medicine.” You are doing the public a great disfavor by mixing your opinions with facts, and through your inability to adequately abstract and discuss information from a scientific article. You should probably leave that to someone who is qualified, or at least make an attempt at an unbiased analysis.

January 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm
(21) John says:

Yours is an interesting story. Being told that you must undergo a debilitating treatment only to find out later that you have no illness. Has science and medicine failed you?

No. Medicine is imprecise, and even medical students learn early on that there are numerous uncertainties regarding every aspect of patient care, from diagnosing, to lab tests, and treatment modalities. The best that physicians and scientists can do is to, unfortunately, use a scientific method with each patient, and to supplement their care with information gained from treating past patients and through scientific studies. The problem with this is the one you encountered…the exceptions to the generally accepted rules. If a test is 99.99 percent specific, you will still have 1 out of 10,000 patients test positive for a condition that he/she does not have.

My hope is that you do not view your mission as one to undermine the medical establishment and question healthcare workers’ motives when it comes to patient care. Rare is the physician who goes into medicine with the desire to cause harm to patients. Your case does not even seem to be one of malpractice. Your physicians followed the established, (and constantly improving, but always imperfect) protocols, and came to the most reasonable conclusion based on their evidence. This is evidence based medicine. Your mentioning of your “intuition” as you called it threatens to set medicine back hundreds of years, all because you were the .01%.

Thank you for advocating for patients who deserve to have the knowledge they need to make educated decisions, but I hope you realize that antagonizing physicians and undermining the scientific method does not do you patients any good, except to quell your “anger” as you described it.

July 18, 2011 at 12:47 am
(22) 2bits says:

Is it possible for a doctor to prescribe a pain medication such as Vicodin that is actually a placebo because the doctor thinks the pain is in the head so he goes ahead and prescribes Vicodin but instructs the pharmacists to substitute the Vicodin with a placebo but labels the medication as being Vicodin? Wouldn’t it be illegal for a pharmacists to label something other than what is in the vial?

November 4, 2011 at 2:43 am
(23) an american says:

It may matter to a physican the reason for prescribing placebos instead of the medicine that you believe that you are paying for. – It is disturbing that a physician cannot be honest instead of prescribing placebos. That is something to feel resentment.
Seldom do I take medications, yet, sometimes I need a sedative. I love my dear mom, she is 89 yrs old; however, sometimes it gets difficult and then I need something to ease the anxiety that comes with the territory of dealing with you parent’(s) dimentia. It is heartbreaking and I would not appreciate getting a placebo instead of a valium or diazepam when I know that I need something to calm me… Like the patient said above; physicians aren’t always right and they should accept that fact and listen to the need(s) of the patient that has the pain or problem. This is my two cents worth.

December 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm
(24) Englishguy says:

Hmm,
Placebo’s I don’t think any Dr would prescribe a placebo for a known illness, the mind is a great healer and in the case of the placebo pill this is very true.
however, a patient is given an inert pill, told that it may improve his/her condition, but not told that it is in fact inert. Such an intervention may cause the patient to believe the treatment will change his/her condition; and this belief may produce a subjective perception of a therapeutic effect, causing the patient to feel their condition has improved — or an actual improvement in their condition. This phenomenon is known as the placebo effect.
Irving Kirsch hypothesized that placebo effects are produced by the self-fulfilling effects of response expectancies, in which the belief that one will feel different leads a person to actually feel different.[32] According to this theory, the belief that one has received an active treatment can produce the subjective changes thought to be produced by the real treatment.

I especially disagree with ” regardless of whether it is real physical pain, or pain imagined — it’s still pain.”
If the pain was real and measurable and an underlying cause found, then I doubt a pill containing nothing but sugar would be prescribed.
A clear example of the practical use of placebo pills would be to a hypochondriac.
What options does a Dr have when there really is no physical or mental ailment, would it be better if He/She continued to prescribe active ingredients giving rise to potentially genuine problems,
Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike… Our nervous system isn’t just fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and it can’t be forever violated with impunity.”

December 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm
(25) Englishguy says:

May I also add that what is the point of a placebo if the Dr willingly informed the patient that the prescription had no biological value.
This would contradict it’s purpose and render it useless. :D

December 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm
(26) Englishguy says:

@an american.
My father had to take of his mother, my nanna… I know how difficult it is to deal with this.
The Dr is not always right. and if you ever feel that you are not taken seriously then seek an alternative Dr.
Taking care of yourself first is paramount, I hope you get the help and support you need. I commend your character for caring for your loved one.
Best wishes :d

February 3, 2012 at 4:05 am
(27) Robert says:

Placebo is amazingly effective at treating virtually every known disease. Just read a clinical trial sometime. It’s often more effective or almost as effective as the drugs.

March 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm
(28) Dr. Romanovsky says:

Yes, we all understand the placebo effect and its importance in medicine. The issue here is whether or not a doctor should prescribe (while in practice and not participating in a related clinical trial) a placebo to a patient.

March 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm
(29) Dr. Romanovsky says:

There are very rare cases when such a treatment is justified. For instance: An emotionally distressed patient all but demands a sedative from a primary care physician. To buy time and to defuse the situation, the doctor prescribes a sedative (undisclosed to the patient that a placebo will actually be prescribed) with a strict warning that it is only a temporary solution, the prescription will not be refilled, and the patient must seek psychiatric advise for additional treatment and medication. The patient may not be displaying evidence of any behavior that warrants detainment for psychiatric evaluation, so a placebo is a very effective therapeutic device to allow the patient to “ride out the event” and allow the subconscious self healing to begin.

March 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm
(30) Dr. Romanovsky says:

The key point of the healing process is that the patient acknowledges the need for a doctor with a psychiatric discipline and is given motivation to seek that care.
Due to the proliferation of the internet and World Wide Web in recent years, such prescriptions are now for a specific real drug (because the word is out on the placebo names) and states “substitutions allowed”, which does not necessarily indicate generic drugs alone – a very subtle, but legally safe method to dispense a harmless lower cost drug. This is a medically and ethically sound method of treatment; provided that the patient’s well being is improved. However, the fact that a prescription states substitutions are allowed does not indicate a placebo. This simple “code word” is sometimes used as a subtle error to queue the pharmacist to contact the prescribing physician. At this point the real placebo is substituted by the doctor and the pharmacist is given verbal instructions to be given to the patient for the substituted drug being dispensed. Often the pharmacist will show concern (or some “special” attention) that such a “drug” is being prescribed, which actually helps in the placebo effect.
I can see that many have done this at least once in their careers, but it is definitely not commonplace nor does it occur on a regular basis.

March 23, 2012 at 1:18 am
(31) student says:

Ok I know that is unethical to prescribe placebos, so why some doctors due? is that illegal or just unethical ?

May 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm
(32) Homer says:

“Cebocap is a name of a pill made from lactose. Lactose is sugar.”

And some people are highly allergic to dairy.

Why would doctors take the risk of giving an allergen to their patients? If I were in the USA and was prescribed something like that I would sue the doctor for all he’s worth because of the lack of concern for his own patients. “Do no harm”, my ass.

July 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(33) Angii says:

I got prescribed ratio-codeine. That’s what the prescription says, that’s what it says on the bottle but I don’t feel any relief even at the highest dose. Could it be a placebo? I also have xanax for anxiety and have the same issue, could that be placebo to, or is it just pain medicine?

July 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm
(34) Trisha Torrey says:

Angii – you must be in Canada, because ratio-codeine is not recognized or prescribed in the US, but it is in Canada.

Here is more information: http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/drug_info_details.asp?brand_name_id=1608

Xanax is definitely not a placebo. It’s anti-anxiety medicine, but not pain medicine. Here’s more about Xanax: http://www.rxlist.com/xanax-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm

Best of luck to you.

Trisha

September 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm
(35) jackie says:

this thread is a bit old but i’m going to ask my question anyway. i have no medical background. i’ve been taking generic clonazapam presrcibed by my doctor for over a year. when i had my last script filled about 7 days ago, i started noticing after several days that it wasn’t as effective. I don’t think it is a tolerance issue, i increased my dose slightly but my symptoms are getting worse! (the pharmacy is a mom and pop compounding pharmacy) and the manufacturer is accord.

My only question is, is it POSSIBLE that the medication refill i received this last time could have no active ingredients? since it is not possible to test every pill out there, could i have gotten a bad batch?

Thank you.

September 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm
(36) Trisha Torrey says:

Jackie,

Has your doctor mentioned trying to wean you off the clonazapam? If so, then it’s possible you were given a placebo…. although if it says clonazapam on the bottle, then no – by law it would have to be labeled correctly.

The other possibility is that you’ve received a counterfeit drug. If clonazapam is typically an expensive drug (the real cost, not the insurance cost) then clonazapam could be counterfeited.

Here’s more about counterfeit drugs, and what to do if you think yours could be counterfeit.

Best of luck.

Trisha

November 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm
(37) Sharon says:

Sometimes even WITH a diagnosis, doctors will minimize YOUR pain. I have RA and Sjogrens. I feel like crap, much fatigue and I feel pain, but don’t swell much. My Rheumatologist believes that all RA patients must have generous swelling during flare ups. NOT true. My Sed rate is 70 and I am very uncomfortable, but have barely any swelling. Half the time the doctor says “I don’t know what could be causing your pain?” you don’t seem to have much swelling. Then I get my monthly lab test and he says reluctantly…”well you are a little inflamed” “Eff off doctor”, I think in my head as I limp out of the room. I’m sure the doctor is simultaneously thinking about all the patients who have it worse than me.

March 21, 2013 at 1:39 am
(38) Lynne says:

The drs are blatantly lying.If you don’t need the medication that you think you need you should be told that and if the dr is wrong he or she should be taken to task.It costs money to make those so called placebos doesn’t it?Adults should be treated as adults for goodness sake. End off.

April 2, 2013 at 7:21 am
(39) CR says:

Placebo could be useful in conjunction with mental/emotional disorders. My sister’s husband feels its unfair for him to have to take medication if my sister doesn’t. Due to emotional trauma, he’s stuck at the emotional development of about 17 years old. He’s 42. Counseling could help him IF he could stay regularly medicated enough to have rational lines of conversation with a therapist. Most of these medications take a few weeks to take effect. Getting an irrational person to take their medication REGULARLY before it takes effect is a catch-22. So why shouldn’t my sister get her doctor to prescribe a placebo for her to take in an effort to coax him to take his? Life isn’t always cut and dry, and the human mind is even more complex than the body.

May 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm
(40) marc says:

I have been taking mst prolonged release morphine sulphate tablets
for a number of years now.In the last couple of months now i have been caught up in the benefit reforms.This month i have noticed my pain has got much worse and my MST is not working also i have had the shakes.Could my gp be giving me placebo tablets instead of my mst.The tablet is round and solid or is it that placebo tablets can only be made with capsules.
Kind Regards

May 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm
(41) Trisha Torrey says:

Marc – it’s a good question, although I don’t think your doctor would ever consider just putting you on a placebo without weaning you off the real stuff. The withdrawal would be a very dangerous process.

If I were in your shoes, I would take one of the tablets to a different pharmacy from the one that fills your scripts – and ask them what that tablet is. Be honest with them – tell them it’s your prescription but that it looks different from the last one so you want to be reassured you’re being given the right thing.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

August 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm
(42) JG says:

So as a third year law student I have to ask, What is the Standard of Care if a physician treats his patient with a placebo and is he liable for negligence?

October 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm
(43) Nolee says:

I used to have to give Cebocaps to a child at a pediatric residential treatment facility in upstate NY. The doc was trying to wean him off one of his other meds and the kid thought he could not function without his pills.

November 6, 2013 at 1:01 am
(44) Ben says:

I think when patients who have colds/viral infections come asking for antibiotics I think one should be totally allowed to prescribe placebos.

April 18, 2014 at 10:37 am
(45) Dolores Jennings says:

All the crap they sell on RBN and other alternative radio is also Snake Oil placebos.

America is a land of suckers who think they can get healthy by some pill.

They eat CRAP food and don’t exercise. Thats why they are sick. not only physically but mentally.

April 18, 2014 at 10:41 am
(46) Dolores Jennings says:

I lived in the USA for 35 years and now 24 years in Europe. There is NO way I trust ANY doctor in the USA. Just scam artists , most of them.

I pay 100 euros a month for unlimited health insurance and medical care here is 10 times as good as the USA. NO waiting either,

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