When is a placebo not a placebo?

Question: When is a placebo not a placebo?

(short) Answer: If it is something other than an inert substance, like saline.

This shouldn’t really need to be explained, but in a scientific world that has been manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry, it sadly does.

Take our old friend statins, the best-selling drug in the world.

You would think, if you are going to publish in the New England Journal of Medicine you would need to be specific about what the “placebo” was you were giving, right?

We could assume it is a capsule that looks exactly like the statin being studied, in a box the same, in fact the same in every way, but with an inert, non-active, non-toxic, substance, like saline.

If this is going to be published in a world-leading journal and then used in guidance, we need to know exactly what was done.

Remember statins have a track record for giving side effects.

But they like to tell us that it is all in our heads, that’s right a NOCEBO.

We heard a rumour statins might hurt us, so they did.

Equally, they also tell us statins give no side effects at all!!

Those crazy pharma peeps are almost bipolar with their research.

But let’s have a think about how they might try to manipulate the research.

Let’s suppose the pharma team wanted to cover up the muscle pain from the loss of Co-Q 10, vitamin D and testosterone (who needs them anyway!!), by giving a “placebo” that was “non-active” in the medical sense that it won’t affect cholesterol levels, but still “active” in the sense it is NOT INERT.

And when we say not inert, we mean it might be something that can create a reaction and thus symptoms, say muscle pain.

This might sound unbelievable, but they do have a track record.

The HPV vaccine, when tested against placebo, the “placebo” used is not saline, it contains amorphous aluminium hydroxyphosphate sulfate (AAHS).

The full ingredients of what is in the placebo is not available, they consider it a proprietary secret.

In fact, journals often simply do not ask for that information.

Note that AAHS is in the vaccine itself also.

They do this deliberately, for a simple reason.

They get similar-ish reactions in both groups, and can therefore say something like:

“both groups were equally safe”.


“the drug/vaccine showed no higher reaction than the placebo”.

All technically correct, but not true.

Anyhoo, back to the statins, one very influential study was JUPITER.

They had a whopping 15.4% reaction rate to the placebo, which is weird because in the other statins trials it is under 5%.

So, given the study subjects were healthy and this was for primary prevention, a few inquisitive medics asked the NEJM for the details on the placebo: What was in the pill exactly?

It turns out the NEJM have no idea what was used as a “placebo”.

But surely the lead author would?

Maybe, but he strangely refused to answer any emails, so they asked the European Medical Agency (EMA).

Not happening there either.

They then asked individual countries for data if they licenced the drug, but no, still nothing.

Eventually, they got hold of AstraZeneca the manufacturer, and they said yes you can have that information, but you can’t tell anyone, what we tell you, ever.

Given that, they declined the kind offer and we remain none the wiser as to why the placebo was able to generate 15.4% muscle pain rates.

This is simply unacceptable from the medical journals, and the drug regulators.

If you want to know the reality of statins, take a trip down memory lane with me: