Absence of trust

There are many ills in America’s political system but one of the most disturbing ones is that important stories get lost in the nonsense of campaign trivia.

Here’s one:

Half — half! — of the doctors in this country prescribe phony pills. Even worse, most of them don’t feel bad about it.

Says the New York Times:

Several medical ethicists say they’re troubled by the results, including study coauthor Franklin Miller: “This is the doctor-patient relationship, and our expectations about being truthful about what’s going on and about getting informed consent should give us pause about deception

Some of the doctors embrace the “benevolent deception” theory– that it’s OK to deceive you if it’s good for you in the long run.

And do patients really have that close of a relationship with doctors anymore, where the absence of trust is a big deal?

By the way, don’t tell the New York Times, but I actually first brought this up in January.

  • Sally Wentross


    OK I’ll give you that you mentioned this in January, but that is a very misleading quote. You state “Half — half! of the doctors in this country prescribe phony pills.”

    What you fail to mention that the study says “at least once in their career”. How about trusting media not to be misleading? I’m a doc and I can tell you that I wouldn’t have the foggiest notion how to prescribe a placebo pill if I wanted to.

    Some or even many of our medicines don’t do much better than placebo in studies – what does that mean? Some things just get better on their own. Maybe we should figure out what the placebo effect is and promote that. At least we wouldn’t have side effects and medication deaths from wrongful administration to worry about.

    Unfortunately many people seem to prefer a pill, even a quasi effective or ineffective one, than follow advice like: Eat well, exercise, rest, have satisfying work and relationships. Can we get that in a pill? SW

  • Bob Collins

    Sally, Why not just say “no”? And isn’t one of the reasons the patients are asking for pills is a combination of them being bombarded by marketing messages for them and an unhealthy relationship between the pharmaceutical companies and health care organizations to push them?