by Mary Macdonald BSN, RN
What would you do if your doctor asked you to participate in a clinical trial for an investigational new drug? Would your initial response be, “No way, I’m not going to be a guinea pig!” That is understandable. However, through clinical trials medicine and health care can advance, and because of this we learn what works and what does not when treating disease.
Clinical trials seek to answer if a new treatment will work for humans and if it is safe. Through research doctors are able to see if new medications work better, have less side effects, and determine if the benefits of the new treatments outweigh any possible risks to humans. Before a new drug can be tested on humans it has to pass through a series of tests in cell and animal studies. After passing through these series, or phases of study, a clinical trial can move on to human subjects when it has been determined that the treatment has good potential and is safe for human research. This process can take several years to complete.
Participation in a clinical trial helps to advance research and therefore you help yourself and others with the same medical conditions. Consider some of the medications you presently are taking, these all have been developed through research. Is your diabetes or blood pressure controlled with medication? It is through research and the assistance of human subjects, not just Guinea Pigs, that the approved and commonly used medications you may be using today make it to your local pharmacies.
Participants in research are not guinea pigs, they are real people like you and me, and the neighbor next door who contribute to the advancements made in health care everyday.
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