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April 25, 1966


JAMA. 1966;196(4):362. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100170104037

Controversy continues over the absolute value of oral broad-spectrum antibiotics in the treatment of acne vulgaris (adolescent acne).1 The issue is not whether antibiotics affect the course of acne (they do), but rather to what degree their apparent effect may be due to a placebo response. The powerful influence of placebo is illustrated once again in a communication in this issue (p 365). Savin and associates report that 78% (18) of 23 patients improved while receiving antibiotic, and 47% (9) of 19 patients improved while receiving placebo. It should be clear that about one out of two patients receiving placebo respond, then an equal number of patients receiving active drug should logically respond on a placebo basis. Thus, one out of two of the apparent antibiotic responses (or nine of the 18 apparent antibiotic responses in the study) are reasonably interpreted as a placebo response. Thus, the estimated absolute

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