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Placebo and side effects confound clinical trials on new antitussives

Eccles, Ronald ORCID: 2021. Placebo and side effects confound clinical trials on new antitussives. Lung 199 (4) , pp. 319-326. 10.1007/s00408-021-00458-2

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This review discusses how the placebo effect related to treatment side effects may confound clinical trials on antitussives and specifically looks at the implications for trials on ATP antagonists. These new antitussives have distinctive side effects on the sensation of taste, and investigators have expressed concerns that this may unblind the clinical trials. Blinding is an essential component of trial design, but the degree of blinding in trials is rarely assessed. The assumptions of additivity and balance in clinical trials are discussed as important factors that allow assessment of the pharmacological activity of an antitussive. How side effects unbalance a clinical trial by amplifying the placebo effect of active treatments is discussed. The point is made that unblinding of trials invalidates any assessment of efficacy but that there is little interest or discussion about this fundamental aspect of trials. Proposals are discussed which may improve the blinding of trials and control placebo effects by changes to participant information, trial design, patient selection and use of active placebos. The issue of unblinding of clinical trials is not a new issue, but if real progress is to be made in developing new antitussives, then it is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0341-2040
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 October 2021
Date of Acceptance: 10 July 2021
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 21:54

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