Many UK doctors give useless drugs, treatments

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Associated Press

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 20 at 11:04 PM

LONDON (AP) — A new survey reveals that more than three-quarters of British doctors prescribe a treatment they know probably won't work at least once a week, like low-dose drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements or an unnecessary exam.

This use of placebo treatments directly contradicts advice from the British Medical Association, which deems them unethical.

The researchers say the findings reveal a common practice among doctors and should be used to change official guidance about using placebos.

The surveyed doctors said they prescribed them to induce a "placebo effect," to reassure patients or because patients pushed for a treatment.

Nearly all of the doctors — 97 percent — reported having used some kind of placebo treatment at least once, while 12 percent reported having used a fake pill.

About 77 percent of doctors said they used some kind of placebo treatment every week; more than 80 percent of them said their use in some circumstances was ethical.

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