About The Author

Sibylle Klosterhalfen is a researcher at the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Big Pharma Is Not Innocent Of The Placebo Effect

We tend to attribute the placebo effect — and its recent rise in randomized placebo-controlled trials (1) — to changes in individual patient behavior, e.g. higher expectations toward the medical system and/or toward doctor behaviors when it comes to prescribing medicines and/or communicating with patients about their benefits (placebo) and pitfalls (nocebo). We here will

On The Shoulders Of Giants, Part 2: Stewart Wolf And The Pharmacology Of Placebos

In comparison to Henry Beecher’s much-cited paper, “The Powerful placebo,” of 1955 (1), Stewart Wolf’s paper, “The pharmacology  of placebos,” of 1959 (2) is today almost forgotten; it came along less spectacularly but more scientifically solid, hiding its implicit provocation (there is a biology underlying the placebo effects) behind a seemingly serious title and in an

Placebo Personalities: Fact, Fake, Fiction, Or A Bit Of Everything?

“Do placebo responders exist?” This is a question raised by many and answered by few (1). Are those who respond with symptom improvement after placebo applications, e.g. in a randomized, placebo-controlled drug trial (RCT), people that always respond the same way and exhibit personality traits that allow for the prediction of their future behavior in

Of Kids And Cats: Placebo By Proxy

Treatment responses in (small) children are difficult to assess since descriptions of symptoms and symptom changes are not easily available without the use of language, e.g. in the case of pain and emotions. The same holds true for therapies in animals, be it domestic animals or otherwise. In all these cases, the judgments rely on

The Dark Side Of The Moon: Nocebo Effects In Medicine

In randomized, placebo-controlled drug trials, reports of adverse events (AE) are common. 40% or more of patients report such side effects, and in both the drug and placebo arms of the study; serious adverse events often lead to trial discontinuation. But since neither the doctor nor the patient knows — at this stage — who