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Very happy to see this recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Pain. 83 patients with chronic back pain were randomly assigned to one to two groups. They either received treatment as usual (TAU) or treatment as usual plus an open-label placebo (OPL). The patients were told upfront that the OPL pills contained no active substance. Each bbottle was labeled “Placebo pills. Take two pills twice a day.” Supporting the fundamental premise on which we build the design of our Zeebo Relief, patients who knowingly took a placebo pill did a lot better than those who only received treatment as usual. The New York Times summarizes the results from the “Open-label placebo treatment in chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial” as follows: “The group that got their regular treatment had an average 9 percent reduction in usual pain and a 16 percent reduction in maximum pain. But the placebo group averaged a 30 percent reduction in both usual and maximum pain. The placebo group also reported a 29 percent reduction in disability, while the usual treatment group reported none.”
Needless to say that we are very happy to see how the field of Open-Label-Placebo is gaining ground with clinical studies. Now I leave you with this question to ponder until our next blog entry: What does it take to reach the tipping point for a paradigm shift in US healthcare bringing about the ethical use of placebos in regular care?