...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let's hear it for the placebos.

Thanks to my local newspaper, the Seattle Times of 2/5, for this one, and my wife for pointing the item out to me.

The Mayo Clinic recently conducted a twelve-week study of roprinole, which is the real name of Requip, versus a placebo, administered in a double-blind study (nobody knows who gets the drug or placebo) to people with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)--the moderate to severe kind. The study was paid for by GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Requip, the only drug FDA-approved to treat RLS.

According to the Times report, about 73% of the patients who got Requip were "very much improved" after 12 weeks, using an accepted scale for rating RLS symptoms. Only 56% of those who got placebos were "very much improved." So...we can say with conviction, based on this study, that Requip (roprinole) is 17% more effective than a placebo.

Hmmm...well, hey...close enough for the Glaxo marketing department.

Links: Seattle Times story; Mayo Clinic study abstract; my past post on RLS.


Sleepless in Canada said...

I'd be the last one to defend the tactics of drug companies so rest assured I'm not doing that. What I am doing is finding serious fault with your uninformed statements that minimalize a very real sleeping disorder which has plagued me all of my life - years before I knew it even had a name, albeit a non-clinical sounding name. If you had spent just one of the many hours that I've spent sobbing during the creepy neurological firing of pain and crawling sensation inthe legs (and in some cases like mine, arms too)that is maddening to deal with, I expect your post may not have been so flippant. You didn't just mock a drug company - you mocked all of us who pray for a cure.


O.K., sir or ma'am, you'll notice that the post you've commented upon only commits flippance upon GlaxoSmithKline and the marketing system. I suspect you also read one of my earlier posts on this subject, in which--as I have acknowledged in another post--I was less than respectful regarding RLS. I have no doubt that your suffering is real. I also have no doubt as to the motives of GSK--to extend the sales of a drug originally approved for Parkinson's Disease to RLS--high price, side effects, risks and all. Somehow, this is the first prescription drug approved for RLS, though the drug industry and the medical profession have had at least sixty years to consider the need for a pharmaceutical remedy for this affliction. I reserve the right, at the risk of being considered insensitive, to speak strongly, even flippantly, about the U.S. drug marketing system, which has apparently taken your suffering even more lightly than I have for a long, long time. I wish you relief and happiness.