Article Summary Summary The article ‘The Promise of Placebo Power’ by Tony Kirby is about the study of the placebo effects by Damian Finniss and his team. It was published in The Weekend Australian on 27-28 March 2010. Kirby (2010) discusses three main issues in his article: the definition of placebo, the placebo research by Damian Finniss and Fabrizio Benedetti, and the ethical issues related to the use of placebos…
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Basing on the study of Finniss, Benedetti and colleagues, the scholar argues that there are different placebo effects depending on the context. To illustrate, Benedetti and his colleagues have found that when an opioid is replaced by a placebo, the body compensates the shortage by using its own internal opioids. However, when a non-steroidal drug is replaced by a placebo, there is still placebo effect even though the body has no internal chemical to replace the same. However, when patients are given only a placebo without the real drug, it is found that they still get relief, but the degree of relief is greatly dependent on the therapeutic context and the person’s expectations. In an experiment, it is found that people who receive injection from doctors get more relief than people who get injection from robots. This clearly indicates the importance of therapeutic context. However, there are various ethical issues in applying placebos, says Kirby. First of all, it is unjustifiable to give a placebo to any patient and wait for the effect. Instead, it is necessary to develop parallel mechanisms which will ensure enhanced placebo effects. That means it is highly necessary to develop the capability which will enable doctors to identify people who can be treated with less real medicine and more placebo. That will mean reduced side-effects and costs. However, in the opinion of Kirby, how drug companies will accept placebo research remains rather ambiguous. While Finniss expects a warm welcome, Benedetti feels that drug companies will hate placebo responders as they can adversely affect the quality of clinical trials. In total, according to Kirby, placebo effect is real and multifaceted. The medical field needs to grow further to utilize the positive side of placebo effect. Analysis The article ‘The Promise of Placebo Power’ by Tony Kirby is about the study of the placebo effects by Damian Finniss and his team. The author argues based on the work by Finniss and others that placebos do have an effect. By reporting a number of studies by people like Finniss, Benedetti and Moerman, Kirby makes the claim that placebos manage to simulate an active treatment. Also, there is the claim that there are different placebo effects. It seems that the information provided by the scholar is just a tip of the iceberg. Admittedly, placebo has been a matter of controversy in the medical fraternity for quite some time now, and there are various studies showing contradictory results. However, Kirby has decided to give attention to a few of them to keep the argument watertight. Evidently, Kirby is writing the article for a range of people from various walks of life. This justifies the simplified presentation of the issue. Admittedly, the presentation of the article suits the nature of the intended audience. The article appeared in The Weekend Australian newspaper. Thus, one can say that the intended audience is mainly common people without any specialized knowledge on the subject. Evidently, Kirby has started the article with sufficient information about placebos and then goes into the details. This shows that he takes all readers into consideration. It seems that Kirby is heavily dependent on the studies he reports and he does not dare to draw any
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