“Placebos have much stronger and more complex effects than we used to think. Their use is extremely important in medicine,” said Christoph Fuchs, managing director of the association, adding that pills and injections without active ingredients can be enormously beneficial to patients.
...About one in two doctors in Germany prescribes placebos on occasion. In Bavaria, a study found that 88 percent of general practitioners prescribe inactive drugs.
Often, doctors prescribe vitamin pills or homeopathic remedies that contain none of the medicine generally used to treat a specific illness. Some physicians even have "codes" understood by pharmacies who give patients sugar pills when filling prescriptions. ... What might appear as ethically dubious is actually often in the best interest of the patient. One study in Germany found that placebos helped 59 percent of patients with stomach ailments. With depression, placebos have the same effect as anti-depressants in about one-third of cases. In addition, placebos also carry none of the side-effects that genuine medicines often do.
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