Is placebo effect to blame for weak R&D record?

Here's an interesting twist on a big problem in the discovery field: Is the biopharma industry's recent weakness at gaining regulatory approvals for new drugs more about the inability of their therapies to work as intended, or is an enhanced placebo effect to blame?

That's the question Wired magazine is posing in a new issue. Illustrating the way that a strong placebo effect scuttled Merck's MK-869 program for depression, Wired notes that other experimental drugs have been crossing the same futility line with growing regularity. As a result, investigators are looking at new ways to design trials that defeat the placebo effect, even as a task force at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health uses a data-sharing project to "stem the crisis."

"After decades in the jungles of fringe science," notes author Steve Silberman breathlessly, "the placebo effect has become the elephant in the boardroom."

- check out the article from Wired