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May 12, 2004

Ethical Issues in Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(18):2192-2194. doi:10.1001/jama.291.18.2193-a

To the Editor: We agree with Dr Miller and colleagues1 that any therapy should be evaluated by the most rigorous and feasible methods possible. We do not entirely agree, however, with their assertion that therapies might be considered legitimate entirely by virtue of their placebo effect. The authors argued that the basis of using placebo controls has to do with demonstrating risk-benefit ratio. In fact, the primary reason for using placebo controls has to do with establishing a specific causal relationship between a therapy and outcome; ie, whether an intervention has scientific veracity. Placebo controls account for other factors that influence outcomes.

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