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Placebo surgery provokes controversy

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 09 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:942
  1. Scott Gottlieb
  1. New York

    A researcher from the University of South Florida has prompted a medical controversy after talking to the New England Journal of Medicine to explain his controversial practice of performing placebo surgery on patients with Parkinson's disease in order to test an experimental treatment.

    The researcher, Dr Thomas Freeman, director of the neural reconstruction programme at Tampa General Hospital in Florida, writes that “placebo surgery” is the best way to evaluate how people who receive cell transplants compare with those who do not.

    In the placebo surgery that he performs Dr Freeman bores into a patient's skull but does not implant any of the fetal nerve cells being studied as a treatment …

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