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The Misunderstood Placebo

Thursday 15 May 2008, 1230-1330
Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre Lab 1

A talk by Professor Stephen Senn, Professor of Statistics, University of Glasgow, as part of the Department of Medicine Seminar Programme.

Contrary to what is often maintained, for serious and life threatening diseases it is often only placebo-controlled trials that are ethical.

Furthermore equipoise is completely irrelevant to the ethics of clinical trials and needs to be replaced by an approach based on Rawlsian justice.

Finally, it is argued that a common use of placebos, as common therapy in a run-in period, violates the principle of informed consent and in any case relies on outdated patrician notions of the stupidity of plebeian patients and must be abandoned.

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