New medicines and medical technology have to undergo several clinical trials before being approved by the FDA for widespread marketing and use in the US. This frequently includes testing on human volunteers or paid test subjects to demonstrate a procedure’s efficacy and to what degree it helps with a certain condition.
Participating in clinical research is not only beneficial to the health sector, but also necessary. Discoveries proven in human trials create a breakthrough to fight chronic diseases or the development of vaccines. However, before jumping into the database for clinical trials, potential participants should ask a few essential questions about this process and their role in it.
Are Clinical Trials Safe?
The number one thing on most people’s mind when considering participating in a clinical trial is whether their safety or health will be at risk. The good news is that very few studies go forward with approving participants without a medical check to see if someone may be at risk for a severe reaction to the treatment being tested. This means that in nearly all cases, clinical trials that a person is selected for are safe, regardless of whether they receive a placebo or the actual treatment.
However, as clinical trials are designed to evaluate new medical procedures or devices, there are always risks involved. The fact is that every medical test, procedure, or treatment comes with risks, even those that are well-established forms of treatment used on anyone seeking health care. The bigger question is whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks, which for many struggling with chronic illness or cancer, is nearly always worth it. It’s up to each person to decide whether it’s right for them to take the risk or not.
Risks vs. Benefits of Medical Trials
Medical trials, regardless of their type or scope, offer similar benefits to participants, including:
- Potentially helping society and specifically those with the condition being experimentally treated
- Taking advantage of a treatment or procedure not available to the general public
- Enjoying benefits such as monetary compensation for expenses and free health care (in some cases)
The risks vary depending on the aggressiveness of the offered treatment as well as the individual’s circumstance: is it someone suffering from a health condition seeking any possible relief or a healthy person interested in advancing science at little to no cost? Risks include:
- Not benefitting from a treatment that works for others
- Losing time and money commuting to and from appointments, which can include increased doctor visits or testing
- Developing negative side effects from the treatment
Do Clinical Trials Cost Money?
Although the true answer is that it can vary from trial to trial, in most cases the participation in a federally funded clinical trial does not cost anything to the participants. It’s paid for in part by the company sponsoring the research and developing the treatment, but also by your healthcare provider. However, it’s best to do your due diligence and check with the researchers for exactly what you will or won’t pay for before committing to join a trial. This includes compensation for additional doctor’s appointments and travel expenses.
Is My Identity or Information At Risk?
Your information will be guarded as best as possible and will always be anonymized to protect your identity. What happens is that your unique experience will be assigned a non-identifiable number that is tagged with your medical records and personal information, so researchers gain accurate insight to the effectiveness of the treatment without knowing sensitive and private information like your social security number. No personal information is ever given to the researchers or regulatory boards and will not be published in any results.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor and Trial Supervisor
Some basic questions to ask both your primary care provider as well as the people running the trial include:
- What phase of the trial will I be in, and what does that mean for me?
- How did this treatment perform in previous trials?
- What side effects have you seen from this treatment?
- Am I required to pay for my own travel and test expenses?
- How long will I be involved in this study?
- Do I have other options or other trials to consider?
Join a Clinical Trial Today
Altus Research in Lake Worth, FL is proud to be a partner for finding new, alternative treatments for all kinds of healthcare conditions from dermatology to women’s health. Find out if you qualify for any currently enrolling studies or join our database of volunteers today. We’re always available to answer any questions you may have about clinical research, so don’t hesitate to reach out by phone or by contacting us online today!