Side effects could be due to ‘nocebo’

Professor Keith Petrie, of the University of Auckland, said side effects could be attributed to medical professionals’ negative feelings towards treatments, especially generic drugs, and the influence of news media.

Pre-existing or unrelated symptoms can also be attributed to new medications, Professor Petrie argued in a paper on how expectations influence the reporting of side effects.

“While the nocebo effect occurs in response to an inert treatment, there is also a nocebo component in the response to active treatment,” he wrote.