Have You Ever Taken a Medication Called Obecalp?

If you answered yes to that question, you’re in for a big surprise. It turns out that Obecalp is “placebo” spelled backwards, and it’s a colorful capsule that’s nothing more than a sugar pill. There’s even a cherry-flavored chewable one for children. The pill has been successfully used for certain patients with psychosomatic illnesses, and it’s an inexpensive way to address a non-existent illness. Parents also give children placebo treatments, which is no different than “kissing a boo-boo” when a child is making a mountain out of a molehill. There are, however, ethical guidelines for using placebos that are designed to prevent irreparably undermining the trust between patient and physician. How effective are placebos? Under the right circumstances, they can be more effective than real pharmaceuticals. However, the majority of physicians agree that placebos have no place in clinical practice and that it’s better to just tell the patient the truth — that their illness or condition doesn’t require medical intervention. Honesty is the best policy.