Requests for Single Reprints: Richard Simon, DSc, National Cancer Institute, 6130 Executive Boulevard, Room 739, Rockville, MD 20892.
Correction: Ethics of Placebo-Controlled Trials. In the editorial by Simon published in the 19 September issue (1), the source of two quotations attributed to Dr. Kenneth Rothman was identified incorrectly. These quotations were “You could torture someone for 10 minutes, and he would recover, but that doesn't mean it's a great idea … you're supposed to be acting in the best interest of the patient”, and “[placebo-controlled trials result from] a misplaced emphasis on statistical significance testing. They never know how effective any drug is because they simply ask, ‘Is it or isn't it effective? Is it significantly better than placebo? ’”. Both quotations were actually taken from the Current Clinical Issues article by Tom Reynolds that also appeared in the 19 September issue of the journal (2), rather than from the article by Rothman and Michels (3) cited in the Simon editorial.
1. Simon R. Are placebo-controlled trials ethical or needed when alternative treatment exists? [Editorial] Ann Intern Med. 2000; 133:474-5.
2. Reynolds T. The ethics of placebo-controlled trials. Ann Intern Med. 2000; 133:491-2.
3. Rothman KJ, Michels KB. The continuing unethical use of placebo controls. N Engl J Med. 1994; 331:394-8.