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Do Doctors Prescribe Placebos?

At least half of American physicians regularly prescribe placebos. The doctors say that it's not only cheaper for the healthcare system, it is also very effective in many cases. In fact, more than 40 percent of patients report feeling better after they take a placebo. The trend of prescribing placebos is not limited to the United States — about half of German physicians do so as well.

More facts about placebos:

  • On prescription pads, placebos are often noted as "obecalp" — "placebo" spelled backward.

  • The placebo effect appears to work even when patients know they're taking a placebo. Sixty percent of patients in an irritable bowel syndrome study reported feeling better after knowingly taking placebos twice a day.

  • The most commonly prescribed placebos are over-the-counter painkillers, followed by antibiotics and sedatives.

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