Friday, November 14, 2008

Are Physician Prescriptions for Real?

news you may not know

Trust Me - This Will do the Trick...

You know all those ads on television that encourage you to "talk to your doctor" when you have a medical problem? They present him as being knowledgeable, concerned and, possibly above all else, trustworthy. It certainly seems reasonable. But...

What if the prescription your doctor gives you is a fake?

What? Impossible! Unfortunately, a new survey published by the British Medical Journal paints a surprising picture. It appears it's rather routine for physicians to prescribe "fake" medications to their patients. Even more surprising is the fact these physicians see no ethical dilemma in their medical tomfoolery.

The physicians, about one-half of those partaking in the survey, said they prescribe placebos an average of two to three times each month. The idea is to trigger the "placebo effect," a phenomenon in which the patient gets better just because they believe the medication will work, not because of any real effect of the drug. It's a real phenomenon, and often seen in clinical trials.

But, does that make it right?

Possibly of biggest concern, if you discount the absolute destruction of the patient-physician relationship, is that over ten percent of the physicians are prescribing sedatives as the placebo. Wow! A similar percentage of the docs prefer prescribing antibiotics for use as a placebo. It's really quite a revelation.

Medications are, for the most part, a valuable component in ensuring our health. But, even when taken as a short-term treatment, they should be used with eyes wide open. These are serious substances, with easily as much potential to do harm as to do good. The only way for them to be used safely is through a strong doctor-patient partnership. That means an honest physician prescribing real medications - and an honest and informed patient who doesn't let television ads dictate his medical care.

So, the next time you "talk to your doctor" and he prescribes a new medication, you might want to ask, "Are you kidding me?"

To read more about the survey, see this from Reuters. To view images of medications and to verify the drug you've been prescribed is the real thing, see this from


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