tautologous, but highly patentable

From Derek Lowe’s blog:

The actual mechanism of the placebo effect is a field of great interest and potentially great importance.

That’s right: someday soon scientists may be working to develop a pill that can mimic the placebo effect.

Personally, I find this immensely cheering. I think I love this universe the most when it’s operating at maximum ridiculousness.

15 Responses to “tautologous, but highly patentable”

  1. son1

    Don’t we already have pills that mimic the placebo effect? Or am I just restating the joke instead of laughing at it?

  2. CG

    I don’t get it. Why does “a field of great interest and potentially great importance” mean “a possible candidate for drug development”? Lowe is discussing academic research, not drug development.

  3. TW Andrews

    Did you not read his whole post, did you misunderstand it, or are you just having a laugh?

  4. Tom

    Jesus Christ you guys are humorless pains in the ass (not you, Tim, although the answer to both your questions is yes).

  5. son1

    No no, I should probably go under the “humorless” and “pain in the ass” rubrics too.

  6. Zak

    Actually, there is no reason why such a pill couldn’t be developed. There has to be some neurological/physiological mechanism by which the placebo effect works (and not just for depression, as in Dereck’s post, but in other more concrete illnesses as well), and this could be the target for a drug.

  7. rafinlay

    I am currently seeking investors for a line of products to be marketed as “PLACEBO BRAND” drugs. Clinically proven — there is no more ubiquitous research finding than the positive effect of PLACEBOS. And by their very nature, there are no damaging side effects, since it is also known that these drugs have absolutely no physical impact.
    I tell you this is an idea whose time has come.

  8. Tom

    Thank you, Zak. That was my point, and the basis of the joke, before it was ruined by sanctimonious pedanticism.

  9. Victor

    If you haven’t heard it, the RadioLab episode on placebos is awesome.
    Money anecdote: In every country in the world blue or purple placebo sleeping pills are more effective than red or yellow pills, save one. In Italy, for men only, blue pills are worse sleeping pill placebos because Italian men get AMPED when they think of the Azzuri.

  10. Tom

    Haha… that’s fantastic.

  11. Ogre


  12. CG

    Sorry. Hopefully your joke has not really been ruined, and stands on its own merits.
    When I first read your post I thought you were implying that Derek Lowe was somehow being an idiot, as in “hey everyone, look at this knucklehead who’s going on about developing a placebo pill!” But I when I followed the link and found a perfectly smart blog post, I was disappointed.

  13. Xenobiologista

    There is a person who is selling sugar pills called Obecalp. The name of her company is “Efficacy Brands, LLC” (ironic) and her website says “Invented by a mommy!” at the top of the home page. Her idea is that it’s perfectly OK for parents to give their kids pills to shut them up when they’re fussing about some minor complaint, which I think is a horrible idea because it’ll teach them that medication solves everything.

  14. Zaratustra

    How will they test them?

  15. An Effective Placebo | nyn9 com

    […] mechanism of the placebo effect is a field of great interest and potentially great importance. Tom Lee says, with certain sense of regressive irony: That’s right: someday soon scientists may be working to […]

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