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June 27, 1966

Acne, Antibiotics, And Placebos

Author Affiliations

Kansas City, Mo

JAMA. 1966;196(13):1159. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100260097034

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To the Editor:—  While investigators quite properly labor to quantitate the "absolute value" of broad-spectrum antibiotics in the treatment of acne vulgaris, practicing dermatologists and their patients rejoice daily in their genuine value.A safe orally administered medicine, effective in 78% of acne patients (196:365, 1966), is an incredibly fortunate find, even if half are indeed helped only because of a placebo effect. After all, the only really predictably effective treatment prior to this discovery was x-ray therapy. Ambivalence about it caused many physicians to instruct parents that no effective therapy existed, with frequently pathetic consequences to afflicted children.No sane dermatologist negates the importance of psychological factors in either the genesis or treatment of acne. However, how are we to choose which patients will be cured by the sugar pills, as opposed to those who should receive the antibiotic? If surgeons could single out those inflamed appendices subject

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