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The use of placebos in clinical trials is often unjustifiable, according to Brazil’s federal research ethics commission (CONEP), which has rejected several international research projects on this basis.

But CONEP’s hard-line stance has infuriated many Brazilian mental health researchers, who complain that their ability to keep up with the field has been compromised.

Rejecting such trials has a host of negative consequences, say researchers, from the loss of information about the effects of certain drugs on Brazil’s diverse population to a loss of revenue and fewer international collaborations.

Reference: Science 295, 264 (2002)