The financial meltdown, recession, and growth in health care costs are a triple whammy, even for those with good insurance. As recently reported, mainstream patients are seeking out pharmaceutical company Patient Assistance Programs intended for the poor. Even generic drugs can be pricey if you have a lot of them.
But I think I have a solution: the Ultrageneric formulary. This plan would feature efficacious products with very favorable side effect profiles and ultra-low costs. There should be strong acceptance from physicians because they are already happily prescribing these products.
What’s the secret? My formulary would consist entirely of placebos. As the New York Times reports (Half of Doctors Routinely Prescribe Placebos):
Half of all American doctors responding to a nationwide survey say they regularly prescribe placebos to patients…
In response to three questions included as part of the larger survey, about half reported recommending placebos regularly. Surveys in Denmark, Israel, Britain, Sweden and New Zealand have found similar results.
The most common placebos the American doctors reported using were headache pills and vitamins, but a significant number also reported prescribing antibiotics and sedatives. Although these drugs, contrary to the usual definition of placebos, are not inert, doctors reported using them for their effect on patients’ psyches, not their bodies.
In most cases, doctors who recommended placebos described them to patients as “a medicine not typically used for your condition but might benefit you,” the survey found. Only 5 percent described the treatment to patients as “a placebo.”
I expect this new plan to be a smashing success.October 24, 2008