Active Placebo


During a clinical trial, participants need to be blinded, meaning they should not know whether they are receiving the control treatment or the experimental treatment. An active placebo is designed to be a more powerful control, tricking someone into thinking they are receiving the psychoactive drug that is being investigated. For example, if the experimental group is receiving a psychedelic drug, the control group might receive Niacin, which is a B vitamin that produces a physical reaction. Individuals who take Niacin in large amounts often turn red and become flushed, which could cause someone to believe they received the experimental medication. If participants can figure out if they are receiving the experimental drug or the control drug, it could compromise the blinding of the trial and damage the integrity of the results. An active placebo is designed to prevent this from happening.

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