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The Strangely Powerful Placebo

The nation’s drug-makers have spent billions of advertising dollars selling consumers on the idea that there’s a drug for everything that ails us. Turns out, they’ve found one: the placebo. For some reason, the placebo effect has gotten significantly stronger in American drug trials. In fact, unexpectedly strong placebo performance has sunk several high-profile drug tests. It’s got the pharmaceutical industry worried enough to fund a major study to identify the factors in rising placebo potency. Drug companies could be victims of their own success in this instance: we’ve become so convinced of the power of modern medicine, it works even when we’re off the pill. [%comments]