Participating in Clinical Studies

Eileen Bailey Health Guide

    New medications show up on the marketplace all the time. In order for a medication to be approved in the United States, it must go through rigorous testing. Usually, there is a period of several years where intense laboratory testing is done, both on human cells and on animals. If this is successful, clinical trials on humans will begin.


    During the three phases of clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies must find people willing to be included and try new medications. There are a few reasons people agree to participate in a clinical trial:


    • They get to try new medications before they become available to the general public. Some of these medications may offer advances in treatment and the people participating can, therefore, be part of medical advances. 
    • They want to contribute to research on a specific disorder or illness. For some, the idea of helping science to come up with beneficial treatments is reason enough to join a study. 
    • When participating in a clinical study, treatment is often free and some clinical trials will pay participants a fee for joining the study.


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    The information from these clinical studies is what the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) uses to evaluate a new medication for safety and effectiveness.


    There are, however, some risks involved. Side effects of new medications might not be fully known or understood and patients take the risk of experiencing side effects.


    Additionally people may need to commit to follow up treatment or laboratory tests, which may be inconvenient.


    Anyone wanting to participate should evaluate the risks as well as determine if they are able to make the commitment necessary to complete the study.  You should also speak with your regular physician to make sure any new medications will not interfere with the treatment you are currently receiving.


    CenterWatch offers listings of clinical studies and has a form to complete so that you can be notified of any upcoming studies in your area.

Published On: May 20, 2008