The new drug was administered to the patients with the medical purpose of helping the patients’ brains produce more dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is not produced by the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease in a normal amount.
The patients were administered two injections with placebo and were told by the scientists that the two different drugs had different price tags: one was $100 and the other was 1,500.
According to the study, during the period when the patients were injected with the expensive placebo they showed some improvements with their motor skills.
Although none of the placebo drugs were as efficient as the levodopa drug, the study showed that the expensive placebo was better than the $100 one.
After the test, the patients were switched back to their normal drug levodopa.
The study was conducted by Alberto Espay, Director of the Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at the University of Cincinnati.
He explained the study’s results, saying that the patients’ perception played a very important role. They associated a higher-priced drug with an increased efficiency.
Researchers know that placebo treatments are often as efficient as real treatments, especially in patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, which is a medical illness that causes tremors, balance problems and stiffness of the limbs.
A study conducted in 2008 revealed that placebo pills used in clinical trials for Parkinson’s treatments improved the patients’ symptoms by 16%.
The team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati suspected that the Parkinson’s patients would be more responsive to the placebo treatment they were told had a pricier tag.
The more expensive the treatment, the more efficient would prove to be, the patients believed.
What the patients did not know was that both placebo injections were made of the same saline solution. But since they had no idea they were given the placebo treatment, the patients perceived the more expensive placebo treatment to be more effective than the cheaper one.
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