Price matters, in patients’ minds
When people believe a medicine is expensive, they may show a greater response to it.
Researchers told 49 volunteers that they were testing two antiitch creams – one costly and one cheap – that contained the same ingredient known to reduce itch, but that the ingredient sometimes increased sensitivity to heat.
Then they showed them the two creams, one in an expensive-looking brand-name box, the other in a generic-looking container. They did not tell them that neither contained any medicine.
They randomly assigned them to try either the expensive or cheap cream.
All participants knew which cream they were using. The study is in Science.
When exposed to heat, the volunteers using the expensive cream felt consistently more pain than those using the cheap one and the effect increased over time.