Clinical trials are an important step in the FDA approval process that a medication must complete to go from test tube to pharmacy shelf. In a clinical trial, recruited volunteers take a trial medication in one of three phases:
- In Phase One, a medication is given to humans for the first time and is evaluated for safety, side effects and safe dosage range.
- In Phase Two, a medications is evaluated for its effectiveness in treating the targeted symptoms, condition or illness.
- In Phase Three, a medication is studied against existing treatments to confirm its effectiveness, and final safety and side effect profiles are compiled.
The one benefit of participating in a clinical trial that makes these volunteers heroes in my eyes is the fact that clinical trial research participants help others by contributing to the advancement of medical science. Without these volunteers, new medications would never make it to the pharmacy, period.
Participating in a clinical trial is a BIG decision; I know because I have done it twice (and I am quite humble about my hero status!) Thankfully there are resources available to help you make an informed decision and determine if being in a clinical trial is right for you. For example: The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (http://www.ciscrp.org//) helps you with information about all aspects of clinical trial participation. They were formed in 2003 as a non-profit public service organization with the mission of educating and empowering patients and their families about medical research participation. One of the tools on their website is the innovative SearchClinicalTrials.org, where you can search multiple websites at one time for clinical trials information.
So consider being a hero. Talk to your doctor and ask if participating in a clinical trial for medications to treat your health condition is right for you. And remember, even if you are healthy, you can participate in a clinical research study.