What is a “Placebo”, how is it used in Medical trials?

What is the News?

Indian drug regulator approved Serum Institute to conduct a phase-2/3 trial of CovoVax COVID-19 vaccine that was originally developed by Novavax Inc. In this case, the regulator allowed the vaccine manufacturer to use a placebo in the control group.

What is a Placebo?

  • It is a substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value. All placebos have one common feature, that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health.
  • Common placebos include inert tablets (like sugar pills), inert injections (like saline), sham surgery, and other procedures.

How Are Placebos Used?

  • Researchers use placebos during research. It helps them understand the effect, a new drug or some other treatment might have on a person with a particular condition.
  • For instance, some people in a study might be given a new drug to lower cholesterol. Others would get a placebo. None of the people in the study will know if they got the real treatment or the placebo.
  • Researchers then compare the effects of the drug and the placebo on the people under the study. That way, they can determine the effectiveness of the new drug and check for its side effects.

What is the Placebo effect?

  • Sometimes a person can respond to a placebo. The response can be positive or negative. For instance, the person’s symptoms may improve. Or the person may have what appears to be side effects from the treatment. These responses are known as the “placebo effect”.

Source: The Hindu

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