Analgesic effects of branding in treatment of headaches

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1981 May 16;282(6276):1576-8. doi: 10.1136/bmj.282.6276.1576.


The effect of branding--that is, the labelling and marketing--of a well-known proprietary analgesic used to treat headaches was studied in a sample of women given a branded or unbranded form with either an inert or an active formulation. The sample was also divided according to whether the subjects were regular users of the brand or users of other brands. The findings showed that branded tablets were overall significantly more effective than unbranded tablets in relieving headaches. Differential effects were observed: the effects of branding were more noticeable one hour after the tablets were taken compared with 30 minutes; in the women given the placebo; and in the users of the brand compared with the users of other brands. It is hypothesised that these effects are due to increased confidence in obtaining relief with a well-known brand, and that branding has an analgesic effect that interacts with the analgesic effects of placebos and active ingredients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Labeling*
  • Female
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Random Allocation
  • Self Medication
  • Time Factors


  • Aspirin