Doctors prescribe drugs that don't work
Three out of four New Zealand doctors have prescribed placebo medications to patients, new research suggests.
Medical researcher Shaun Holt said the practice could be costing the taxpayer several million dollars.
The placebo effect exists, therefore if a drug improves someone's condition, it has 'worked'. The writer tells us as much in the article;
Placebos are associated with the release of natural painkillers in the brain, including dopamine. Taking a placebo creates a "self-reinforcing feedback loop" in the brain: during pain an individual recalls having taken the placebo and reduced pain reinforces its status as a painkiller. About one-in-three people appear susceptible to placebo effects.
Doctors are quite probably adept at identifying the one in three.
And what about prescribing drugs as a diagnostic tool? If the doctor guesses wrong, the drug 'doesn't work'. But it does eliminate one possible diagnosis so hasn't been a waste of money.
There is a subtle but significant difference between a drug not doing what it is therapeutically supposed to do and it being a waste of money.