A clinical study or trial uses human volunteers to test new medication or treatments for a medical condition.
If a patient enters a clinical trial, they receive interventions based on the study protocol. The clinical trial is led by a principal investigator, who is usually a doctor.
Clinical trials are funded by pharmaceutical companies, medical centers, or other agencies such as the National Institute of Health. For example, if a new medication is being tested, the pharmaceutical company will pay for the medicine for the patient. Medical insurance will typically pay the usual costs of care while the patient is in the study. Patients can find out who pays for the study by checking the study protocol and checking with their insurer.
Clinical trials can help find new or more effective ways to treat a medical condition. The trial has to be approved by a special review board (Institutional Review Board), and the participants have to agree to participate with informed consent, where they learn about the study.
People who chose to volunteer in clinical trials often chose to participate in order to help others with a similar medical condition. For example, a patient with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) may volunteer so that researchers can test a new medication for the disease. Some people participate because they have a rare disease and there are few other treatment options.
How do you find out about clinical trials? The website for clinical trials is ClinicalTrials.gov. Once on the site, a patient can enter their clinical condition to find out about a particular study for their condition and where the study is located.