Magazine article Work & Family Life

What's Up with Clinical Drug Trials?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

What's Up with Clinical Drug Trials?

Article excerpt

Q WHAT IS A CLINICAL TRIAL?

A It's a research investigation on human volunteers of the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, medical devices and procedures. After a treatment is tested in a lab or on animals, it goes into a clinical trial to learn how well it works on human patients.

Q WHO CONDUCTS CLINICAL TRIALS?

A A government agency, drug company, foundation or medical institute. Funding comes from the federal government or private sources, typically drug and biotech companies. Physicians hired by the sponsors conduct the trials. Volunteers may receive free or low-cost medical care in addition to the experimental treatment.

Q WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

A All clinical trials have criteria for inclusion and exclusion, based on what is being studied. For example, research on a new treatment for degenerative arthritis would generally focus on older people. Because drugs work differently on different people, most clinical trials these days include women and men, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans.

Q ARE THEY SAFE?

A Clinical trials depend on a volunteer's willingness to take some risks in order to gain potential benefits, and some volunteers do experience negative side effects-during or even after the treatment is over (see By the Numbers below). …

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