Coenen M, Bingel U, Zunhammer M, Berdaguer MS, Fuhrmann C, Fimmers R, Rengelshausen J, Hartmann G, Schedlowski M, Coch C
Trials 23 (1) 488 [2022-06-13; online 2022-06-13]
The placebo effect as the symptom improvement following inert treatments is a fixed component of RCTs to differentiate between specific effects of the tested pharmacological substance from other unspecific effects. The PINgPOng study was set up to analyze the influence of a study team trained to either minimize the placebo response and optimize drug-placebo differences or to maximize the placebo response to increase drug efficacy by unspecific factors on the study results of a RCT in a classical early clinical trial setting. PINgPOng is a single-center, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in a 3-group, 2-sequence, 2-period cross-over design. The study is conducted according to the principles of ICH-GCP and the Declaration of Helsinki on the Phase I-Unit of the University Hospital Bonn. The primary endpoint is the pain intensity in the cold pressor test before and after the administration of 15 mg oxycodone or placebo. The pain intensity is compared between three study conditions: 32 healthy volunteers in each study arm will be treated either by an untrained study team (arm A), by a study team trained to maximize (arm B), or to minimize placebo responses (arm C). Neuroendocrine factors (alpha-amylase activity, salivary cortisol), characteristic traits (anxiety, depression, stress), and somatic reactions are analyzed as covariates of the pain perception. The PINgPOng study will allow to answer the question whether and to what extent the behavior of a trained study team (neutral vs. maximize vs. minimize placebo responses) will differentially affect placebo responses in a setting of a highly standardized early clinical trial. The results will help to control the placebo effects by education of the clinical study team and to avoid unnecessary high placebo effects in clinical development. German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00013586 . Registered on December 22, 2017.