Are expensive drugs better than cheaper ones?

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KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Just because something costs more does not mean it is better, but many people think expensive means good. 

It seems that the same theory might be applied to the placebo effect — what doctors call the reaction when someone takes a sugar pill and feels better, even though there was no medicine involved in the process. 

Researchers tested 82 volunteers who were given a non-narcotic pain killer. Half were given a brochure describing the pill as a newly approved pain killer that costs $2.50 per dose, and half were given a pill and told it cost just a few pennies. 

Up to 85% of the volunteers who thought they were getting the $2.50 pill said they felt less pain after taking it, compared to 61% who thought they were getting a discounted drug. 

In reality, neither pill was designed to have an impact on pain.