97% of doctors in UK admit to prescribing useless drugs

LONDON (TIP): A majority of British doctors have admitted to prescribing medicines to patients which had no active ingredients besides placebos – unproven treatments, non-essential physical examinations and blood tests. Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton in the UK discovered that 97% of doctors have used “impure” placebo treatments, while 12% have used “pure” placebos.

A random sample of doctors found to be representative of all UK doctors registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) was surveyed online with 783 responses. The results published on Thursday said ethical attitudes towards placebo usage varied among doctors. Impure placebos are treatments that are unproven such as antibiotics for suspected viral infections or more commonly non-essential physical examinations and blood tests performed to reassure patients. Pure placebos are treatments like sugar pills or saline injections which contain no active ingredients.

Around 84% of doctors said impure placebos or subjecting patients to unnecessary blood tests, X Rays or other body examinations were acceptable. Another 66% said it was “ethically acceptable” to prescribe drugs without active ingredients meaning they wouldn’t work at all.

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