Essay about The Ethical Debate of Placebos

Essay about The Ethical Debate of Placebos

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The Ethical Debate of Placebos
In health care there is a fine line between what is ethical and what is not. As time goes on this line becomes thinner and thinner. In the article The Moral Case For The Clinical Placebo, Azgad Gold and Pesach Lichtenberg are two researchers that argue that there are exceptions to this fine line when talking about placebos. They specifically argue, “The intentional use of the placebo, in certain circumstances and under several conditions, can be justified.”1 The placebo is rapidly becoming a problem because it is now a commonly prescribed drug and many people have different ethical views on the topic.
Gold and Lichtenberg believe that the placebo is effective and should be used in certain cases and under specific circumstances. They say that the placebo may be more effective in a clinical setting rather then in a research setting.1 It has also been proven that if a patient knows about the placebo they are less likely to show improvement in their health. This is why full disclosure is not always possible. This also means that the patient has to form some type of trust in the physician and believe that the physician is there to help them get better. Trust between the patient and the physician is what makes the placebo effect possible. Both of these researchers believe that it is ethically acceptable to use the placebo because in most cases it can be morally justified; meaning that the placebos can be used because, in the end, it is for the benefit of the patient and not the physician.
Many argue against Gold and Lichtenberg’s beliefs. Others believe that giving the patient a placebo is denying them of a “real” treatment and that it “is unethical, if not illegal.”1 Many people also believe tha...

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...ebo can be morally justified in many circumstances. There is now a rough guideline that physicians must follow that help balance out all the conflicts that arise when discussing the placebo. The prescription of the placebo must help improve the patient’s health in the end otherwise the patient must not take it. The placebo also cannot be presented in a false manner to the patient. There does not have to be full disclosure under certain circumstances. Paternalism is also allowed under certain conditions. Both Gold and Lichtenberg argue with evidence and research reasons why the placebo is morally justified in certain situations.

1.) Gold A. and Lichtenberg P. The Moral Case for the Clinical Placebo, 219-224.

Azgad Gold and Pesach Lichenberg, “The Moral Case for the Clinical Placebo,” J Med Ethics 40 (2014): 219-224.

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