Louis C. Lasagna dies

Pathfinder in pharmacology brought rigor to the study of drug effectiveness

Milly Dawson(millydawson@alum.wellesley.edu)
Sep 7, 2003

Louis C. Lasagna, MD, best known for having pioneered well controlled research on the placebo effect, died of lymphoma on August 6 at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass. Dr. Lasagna was dean emeritus of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University.

"The [placebo] phenomenon was known but [Lasagna's research] was a turning point for how drugs should be evaluated. He was a leading figure in establishing the efficacy of drugs," said David Stollar, acting dean of the Sackler School. "One could be seriously misled in evaluating the effectiveness of a drug without recognizing that some of the effectiveness was not reflecting the action of the drug."

Richard I. Shader, professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the Sackler School, explained that before Lasagna's studies, "people were just capitalizing on the placebo effect without trying to quantify it. Lou worked with a man named Beecher at Mass...

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