Clinical trials are research studies that aim to find new ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, and treat a disease. All major innovations in health care, such as inhalers for asthma patients and medications for life-threatening conditions, must undergo thorough testing before they can be widely used by patients, and clinical trials are a vital aspect of the approval process.
So, if clinical trials are so important to the development of new medical advancements, why don’t more people volunteer to participate? Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer for Pfizer, points to several myths and misconceptions that Americans have about clinical trials.
From confusion regarding who can participate in clinical trials to fears about the safety of participating in them, many Americans shy away from volunteering for studies that potentially could provide life-changing benefits.
Although Hollywood often portrays such studies as dangerous and unregulated, Dr. Lewis-Hall says all authorized clinical trials are overseen by health authorities, such as the FDA, to protect the health and safety of those who participate in the studies.
How do clinical trials work? ER physician Travis Stork explains that all participants are informed up front about any potential benefits or risks of the study, and they are given ample opportunity to ask questions and can withdraw their participation at any time. Additionally, all participants are made aware that there are no guarantees that the treatment they receive will be effective.
Clinical studies often are designed such that some participants receive the cutting-edge treatment, while others receive the standard treatment or a placebo (which doesn’t include an active ingredient). Researchers can then compare the results of each participant group to determine the effectiveness of a potential treatment.
“We have so much left to understand about how diseases and treatments affect different people at different times, in different ways; that’s why we need people to participate in clinical trials,” Dr. Lewis-Hall explains.
If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or would like to learn more, please talk to your doctor or visit one of the following sites:
More information about clinical trials also can be found at GetHealthyStayHealthy.com.
Sponsored by Pfizer.