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Asthma sufferers say placebo is as good as a drug for easing breathing

MagazineSeptember 2011 (Vol. 22 Issue 6)Asthma sufferers say placebo is as good as a drug for easing breathing

A placebo-or dummy pill-is every bit as effective as a pharmaceutical drug as far as the patient is concerned, and it comes with no risk of serious side-effects, a new study has discovered

A placebo-or dummy pill-is every bit as effective as a pharmaceutical drug as far as the patient is concerned, and it comes with no risk of serious side-effects, a new study has discovered.

Asthma patients said they were able to breathe more easily after they were given a placebo-even though there was no measurable physical difference in their lung function. In fact, the placebo was as effective as the asthma drug albuterol, a bronchodilator.

Lead researcher Ted Kaptchuk, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said that the "ritual" of treatment could be the key to determining any improvement in the patient. "The idea of receiving care is a critical component of what patients value in health care," he said (N Engl J Med, 2011; 365: 119-26).


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