- A "sugar pill" or any dummy medication or treatment. For example, in a controlled clinical trial, one group may be given a real medication while another group is given a placebo that looks just like it in order to learn if the differences observed are due to the medication or to the power of suggestion. Placebos are widely used in drug trials.
* * *1. An inert substance given as a medicine for its suggestive effect. 2. An inert compound identical in appearance to material being tested in experimental research, which may or may not be known to the physician and/or patient, administered to distinguish between drug action and suggestive effect of the material under study. SYN: active p.. [L. I will please, future of placeo]- active p. SYN: p..
* * *1) a usu. pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder2) an inert or innocuous substance used esp. in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (as a drug)
* * *n.a medicine that is ineffective but may help to relieve a condition because the patient has faith in its powers. New drugs are tested against placebos in clinical trials: the drug's effect is compared with the placebo response, which occurs even in the absence of any pharmacologically active substance in the placebo.
* * *pla·ce·bo (plə-seґbo) [L. â€œI will pleaseâ€] any dummy medical treatment; originally, a medicinal preparation having no specific pharmacological activity against the patient's illness or complaint given solely for the psychophysiological effects of the treatment; more recently, a dummy treatment administered to the control group in a controlled clinical trial in order that the specific and nonspecific effects of the experimental treatment can be distinguishedâ€”i.e., the experimental treatment must produce better results than the placebo in order to be considered effective.
Medical dictionary. 2011.