For some time pharmaceutical companies have known that the effectiveness for a new medication is greatest in the first year of availability to the public. It has been suggested that the increased effectiveness is the result of a physicians enthusiasm for the new drug.
Dan Ariely, behavioral economist, Duke University, and a team of collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, administered mild electric shocks to 82 test subjects. Before and after the shock subjects were given a placebo and were told it was a newly approved pain-killer. All subjects were given a brochure about the new drug that indicated the ‘new’ pain-killer cost $2.50 per dose–except half of the brochures indicated that the per dosage cost had been marked down to 10 cents.
Of subjects who were led to believe the dosage cost was $2.50 experienced a reduction in pain 85% of the time after taking the placebo. The subjects who believed the dosage rate was 10 cents experienced a reduction in pain at the rate of 61%.
Although the number of subjects was relatively small it does demonstrate how people perceive quality and they anticipate therapeutic effects. Researchers could not help but to wonder what implications their study has on how generic medications are perceived. The question raised is if people who use cheaper generic drugs have the same belief that the drug works as those who are paying more for the brand name drug.