CRYSTAL CAULDRON, Goldacre, Monday (NotScientist) — The pharmaceutical industry is reeling from the news that more and more new drugs do no better than a placebo. Despite historic levels of industry investment in research and development, the FDA approved only 19 new drugs in 2007 and 24 in 2008.
The placebo effect has been little-understood. Trials in different countries and cultures can show different results. Ratings by trial observers can vary significantly from one test site to another. Advertising has conditioned people into thinking a little branded pill will make them all better.
“This throws R&D spending into significant doubt,” said Cylon Number Six of GlaxoSmithPfizerMonsanto. “It’s clear that marketing has always been the way to go, and that spending four times as much on marketing as research was the best thing we could possibly have done for humanity.”
Researchers are now going full steam to discover new forms of nothingness to apply to new diseases. Explorers have been sent into the Amazonian rainforest to find new plant species to dilute to the point of no molecules of the original being present. Traditionally ineffective tribal remedies from around the world have been patented in Western countries. “If ‘4’33″’ can be copyrighted, we can patent the placebo gene!” The treatments will be publicised in the new Elsevier journal, The Australasian Journal of Nothing Whatsoever.
Homeopaths are up in arms at the pharmaceutical industry “muscling in on our territory,” said Ravenwoo Granola of the Specialist Homeopathic Institute of Technology. “We developed the finest, most refined and provably harmless snake oil in existence! There’s nothing homeopathy can’t cure! Er, there’s nothing that isn’t brought to us for consideration and helping the patient trigger the placebo effect themselves. A snip at £5.99 a bottle and fifty quid a consultation! And we absolutely proved it harmless! We did double-blind tests against placebo … Bugger.”
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