The original plan was a simple observational study, recalled William J. Burke, MD. It was more than 20 years ago that the geriatric psychiatrist set out to measure the impact of a certain drug on inflammation in the body. But, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had a different idea on how to approach the study. They recommended Dr. Burke add a placebo group. He agreed and that change made all of the difference to the study.
“At the end of the study, we broke the blind and learned who was taking the drug and who was taking the placebo,” Dr. Burke said. “It turned out the people who were doing really well were the people taking the placebo.”
This was Dr. Burke’s introduction to the power of placebo.