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Study: Effect Stronger for 'Expensive' Placebo

A small new study of people with Parkinson's disease underscores the power of what's known as the "placebo effect." And it suggests that price matters. People who think they got an expensive drug may feel better than those who think they got a cheaper one even if both drugs are fakes (placebos). The study included 12 people with moderate to severe Parkinson's disease. People were given an injectable "drug" (really saline), then another "drug" 4 hours later. They were given in random order. Before each one, people were told that it was an expensive drug ($1,500 per dose) or a cheaper one ($100 per dose). Before each dose, researchers did MRI brain scans and tests of people's movement abilities. People showed improvement in movement symptoms, such as tremor and stiffness, after both doses. On average, they had more improvement after the "expensive" drug than after the "cheap" one.

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