(Editorial Note: This is the fifth in the Lasagna series of posts that began with Not So Bad Pharma, April Fool, Tragedy of Lou Lasagna, Empire of Humbug: Bad Pharma and will continue through to Brand Fascism and Witty A: Report to the President.)
In 1954, soon after his article with Beecher put the placebo on the map, Lou Lasagna was recruited from Harvard to Hopkins. Beecher pleaded with him to stay in Boston;
“Now that I am faced with the unhappy fact that you are gone, I find it more depressing than I can say… If your future career is anything like your performance here it is bound to be spectacular.”
Lasagna ended his days back in Boston, leading the Center for the Study of Drug Development, whose brief was to foster the development of specific treatments for specific conditions. In 1980, he was made president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. The placebo had vanished from his working life.
Michael Shepherd had at one point been expected to take over the lead of Britain’s Maudsley Hospital when Aubrey Lewis retired but his style was too much at odds with the developing medico-pharmaceutical complex for this to be possible. He had been Vice-President of the World Psychopharmacology College (CINP) but by the mid-1960s he was persona non-grata within psychopharmacology.
He turned to primary care research and accidentally created a market for the SSRIs in the process. He grew increasingly opposed to the notion of specificity in medicine, and turned to exploring the placebo.