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Jewish World Review May 15, 2002 / 4 Sivan, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

Those in depression | Here is an interesting story and it's true. A new study on depression revealed that people got as much help from a placebo (sugar pill) as they did from high-priced antidepressants.

In the experiment, the researchers, working with depressed people, discovered when they gave half of them Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, and the other half a placebo, the latter did just as well, and sometimes better. None of the patients knew which type of pill they were taking.

This is one small step for man and one giant leap for depression.

Obviously, most worried are the drug companies, who are dreaming up antidepression prescriptions.

I called Dr. Furlanger of Furlanger Pharmaceuticals.

I said, "This study could change the lives of millions of people who pay big bucks for Pretext. You people must be going crazy."

He was very calm. "No, we're glad the study came out. It revealed that placebos worked as well as Pretext, but it also revealed that as soon as the patient knew he was taking a placebo he became depressed again."

"But the cost of a sugar pill is so much less than Pretext, you would think that they would settle for the placebo."

"It's really mind over matter. Americans are so used to taking pills they want the real thing."

"What are your people planning to do?"

"We're going to manufacture our own placebo for depression called Cheerup X. People won't know if it's Pretext or a sugar pill."

"Won't they be suspicious now that the secret is out of the bag?" I asked.

"Not if we charge them the same price for Cheerup X that we charge for Pretext. Can you imagine the profit we can make if we package sugar pills? The only cost will be advertising and trips to Bermuda for doctors who prescribe them."

He continued, "Our drug company has faith in holistic medicine. If the patient believes something will help him then it will help him. Our job is to see that no matter which product they use, it will take them out of the blues."

"How can you be sure?"

"We will color both pills with the same dye, probably magenta."

"Are you afraid the other drug companies will steal your patent for magenta placebos?"

"We'll sue them for stealing."

"And what about the generic companies?"

"That's a very depressing thought."

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05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS