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July 24/31, 2002

The Increasing Power of Placebos in Trials of Antidepressants

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;288(4):449-450. doi:10.1001/jama.288.4.446

To the Editor: Dr Walsh and colleagues1 found a trend toward increasing placebo effect with younger birth cohorts in trials of antidepressants. The best fit lines of the medication groups vs placebo group in 75 trials are parallel, suggesting that the increasing effect in younger birth cohorts is mostly due to increasing placebo effects. With a mean 50% proportion of patients responding to actual therapeutic drugs, it would appear that the placebo and drug effects (although additive) are more or less equal.