Clinical research studies (also called clinical trials) are conducted to test the safety and effectiveness of investigational drugs for diseases and health conditions. Studies play an important role in the development of medications. A medication must go through several phases of research involving small populations of people before it can be approved by a regulatory authority and released for use by the general public. Many treatments used today are the result of past clinical research studies.
All clinical research studies are governed by strict rules and are reviewed by an institutional review board (IRB) or an ethics committee (EC). These groups are made up of doctors, scientists, and others concerned with the health of the public. It is the responsibility of a review board to make sure research studies are designed and implemented so that the rights and welfare of study participants are protected.
Participating in a clinical research study is voluntary and may not be right for everyone. You should discuss the study and any other treatment options with your doctor, family, and friends before deciding to participate.