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TheObjector's avatar

Did my Doctor give me a placebo?

Asked by TheObjector (102 points ) October 3rd, 2011

I’ve been avoiding my counselor and school psychologist for a long time and they’ve practically forgotten about me because I thought I could get better myself and not believe I had depression but recently it’s gotten a whole lot worse and when I finally had rational thinking I quickly made an appointment to my Doctor.

I talked to him about what was going on and he suggested I take Lexapro(escitalopram).
But the thing is, I didn’t have to pay for it and he just happened to have it in stock at the time and gave it to me. I didn’t question it at the time but now I’m just confused. Don’t we normally get a prescription and have to go see a chemist?

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14 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Many doctors keep samples in their office.

lillycoyote's avatar

No. Many doctor’s are given samples, drug samples, by the pharmaceutical reps and sales people and possibly from other sources, I’m not sure. I get samples from my doctors all the time and am always very happy to get them. It means I don’t have to pay for them.

Aethelflaed's avatar

If you live in the US (because I have no idea about other countries), it’s very common for doctors to have medication samples for drugs (especially the expensive, non-generic ones like Lexapro). And Lexapro will take a few weeks to start working, so if you’ve only been taking it a couple days, that’s not surprising that you wouldn’t feel drastically different.

I don’t think there’s a reason why your doctor would be giving you a placebo unless you were enrolled in a clinical trail.

augustlan's avatar

Samples are common. I’m sure it’s not a placebo.

lillycoyote's avatar

And, as @Aethelflaed points out, the sample will generally be for a brand name pharmaceutical like Lexapro, not for a generic medication. Getting samples from your doctor when you are just starting a medication, particularly with antidepressants, seeing if it might be effective for you is really a pretty good thing. You will probably get a long enough course of the drug to see if it will work for you and get to see if it might work for you without the major investment that some prescription medications entail these days.

Soupy's avatar

Was it a 1–2 week pack?

Lexapro is generally sold in packs which last a month or more. Smaller packs are given to doctors as samples. That way you can try the medication for a week and make sure you’re not going to experience any really awful side effects before you go out and spend a lot of money. This is common practice when doctors feel you need an antidepressant.

JLeslie's avatar

Like so many have said, he gave you a sample. Pharmaceutical reps give samples to doctors so they are more likely to prescribe the drug they are selling. Get the patient started and then they continue on the drug by getting a prescription. It also gets the doctor comfortable with giving that drug to patients, so the physician is more likely to prescribe it even if he doesn’t have any samples in his cabinet. If you start the drug make sure you follow up with your doctor to get a prescription so you don’t miss a day. Hope the medication helps you feel better.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Placebos are not provided to patients unless it is for a reason (Hypochondria) they are provided in blind participant studies conducted not by private physicians but by the federal gvt.

*At least that’s what we’re told anyway.

Placebos are given in order to conduct the testing and evidence necessary to decide if a medication meets the criteria of the FDA standards of medical use and practice.

If you NEEDED a medication and you were purposefully given a placebo, and you got sick, or died *God forbid… can you imagine the outrage?

Those studies are participants… only they are divided and neither side knows which they will be given that’s how it works.

TheObjector's avatar

Thank you guys. I guess it’s me just being paranoid.

@Soupy I got 4 packs with 8 tablets in each so 32. One a day so itd last me a monthish.

lillycoyote's avatar

@TheObjector Yeah, that’s pretty standard. A month’s supply when it comes to free samples. And as @GabrielsLamb points out, doctors really don’t give out placebos, generally. I really can’t think of any circumstances in which they would except in a controlled clinical trial, but I could be wrong about that. I don’t know for sure. They will either give you an option that doesn’t medication, doesn’t require ingesting any pills or will give you the medication you need either by giving you a prescription or a sample, if they have one.

Soupy's avatar

@TheObjector Those sound like the Lexapro sample packs I was given by my doctor. I was given 3 packs from memory. Those sample packs are given to the doctors so that they can give them to patients for short trials. Nothing to worry about.

If you’re still concerned, you could speak with your doctor.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@lillycoyote Yes, either way you have to be a somewhat willing participant.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Amusingly alot of clinical trials have shown that placebos are often better than the actual medication had often still have a measurable effect even when you know you’re taking a placebo.

Gabby101's avatar

Yeh, it would be unethical to tell you that you are getting Lexapro and it be a placebo. I’m also sure that the company that makes Lexapro would have something to say about this as well.

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