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Editor, – I agree entirely with the sentiments of Dr O'Dempsey (Aust Prescr 2000;23:5) that newer drugs are rarely, if ever, measured against the performance of 'active' placebos. I think very few would pass muster if they were.

In the case of any antidepressant, I would personally be very surprised if any performed better than pheniramine p-aminosalicylate. I would be amazed if any hormone replacement therapy performed better than spironolactone100 mg second daily. I would be astounded if any anti-psoriasis treatment compared favourably against miconazole and zinc nappy ointment. I would also personally be stupefied if any ear drop could compare with half strength Burow's solution.

Peter Rout
General Practitioner
Darlington, NSW