Of course, we’ve always had snake oil salesmen. We’ve always had patent medicines, odd electric probes and copper bracelets. That’s partly because placebos work, and partly because when someone isn’t feeling well, it’s tempting to seek relief and belief.
In the last fifty years, peer-reviewed and tested medicine has gotten dramatically more effective at the same time that these regulated medicines have spent a fortune on ads and marketing. As a result, the sham snake oil purveyors have worked hard to copy the scientific umbra and language of tested and regulated treatments. And thanks to aggressive lobbying, in many countries, the folk remedies are nearly unregulated.
So we’ve got greedy public pharma companies, with a tested product and an ad budget that often exceeds their R&D budget (industry wide, it approaches half of R&D). They’re using every tool they can to sell something expensive that sometimes works. And then we have folk medicine companies that are responding to the high prices and ad influx by raising their own prices and sharpening their own ads, blurring the gap and grabbing some of the trust that people have in verified and tested results.
Belief is useful and placebos work. But you can see the widening gap here. It’s hard to tell from the website or ad which are the actual focused, tested, double-blind and effective treatments, and which are simply scams. A cheap benign placebo is a bargain. One that costs too much or hurts you is not.
If someone tells you (Read more…)