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Placebo effect characteristics observed in a single, international, longitudinal study in Huntington's disease§


  • Funding agencies: Junta de Castilla y León grant, 2008.

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report. Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.

  • §

    Members of the European Huntington's Disease Initiative Study Group are listed in the Appendix.



Classically, clinical trials are based on the placebo-control design. Our aim was to analyze the placebo effect in Huntington's disease.


Placebo data were obtained from an international, longitudinal, placebo-controlled trial for Huntington's disease (European Huntington's Disease Initiative Study Group). One-hundred and eighty patients were evaluated using the Unified Huntington Disease Rating Scale over 36 months. A placebo effect was defined as an improvement of at least 50% over baseline scores in the Unified Huntington Disease Rating Scale, and clinically relevant when at least 10% of the population met it.


Only behavior showed a significant placebo effect, and the proportion of the patients with placebo effect ranged from 16% (first visit) to 41% (last visit). Nondepressed patients with better functional status were most likely to be placebo-responders over time.


In Huntington's disease, behavior seems to be more vulnerable to placebo than overall motor function, cognition, and function © 2011 Movement Disorder Society