The Futility Boundary

No, not that one.

I’m not sure if we even realize how bizarre this is:

The upshot is fewer new medicines available to ailing patients and more financial woes for the beleaguered pharmaceutical industry. Last November, a new type of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, championed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was abruptly withdrawn from Phase II trials after unexpectedly tanking against placebo. A stem-cell startup called Osiris Therapeutics got a drubbing on Wall Street in March, when it suspended trials of its pill for Crohn’s disease, an intestinal ailment, citing an “unusually high” response to placebo. Two days later, Eli Lilly broke off testing of a much-touted new drug for schizophrenia when volunteers showed double the expected level of placebo response.

Okay, once again.

drug – any substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in humans or other animals.

placebo – a substance or procedure … that is objectively without specific activity for the condition being treated. It’s what the control group is given to judge results against what happens if you… do nothing.

So, apparently placebo potency (!) has grown sufficiently strong enough to knock off a few highly-touted new pharma cures, such that big pharma is now commissioning studies of the new placebo potency? What if they find out that it was all in our head? Can these results be kept secret and used as a new cudgel in the struggle against other things we don’t need… to take anything to correct?

What? And, how do we score one for the power of the mind when the same minds were so severely impacted in the production of this result? And is the lesson repeatable?

Answers, people. I want answers.