This story highlights an interesting study that's just been published, showing that nearly half of doctors have at some time given patients a placebo as treatment. And often it helped.
Seems to me this ought to happen a bit more often. My sense is doctors often write a prescription just to shut up a patient who is complaining, even though they don't need medication. Perhaps more of this will reduce the amount of unnecessary use of antibiotics for conditions that don't respond to them.