We’re always excited when our medical research makes it to the clinical trials phase. That’s because it takes a tremendous amount of effort to get there. It may take many years of lab work — decades, even — before we’re confident enough to proceed into human testing. This also explains, in part, why the medical research process can seem slow, especially for those who are eager for a new treatment for their health condition.
So what, exactly, is a clinical trial? It’s a way to test the safety and effectiveness of a treatment, device or drug. It’s an essential step in obtaining the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval to make that treatment, device or drug available to patients.
Clinical trials are tightly controlled and rigorously reviewed. Ours are overseen by our Institutional Review Board for Health Science Research (commonly called “the IRB”), which is made up of both healthcare professionals and members of the public. The board closely monitors the safety of trial participants, and it continually reviews new developments and activities while weighing the risks and benefits. Even advertisements for the trials must be reviewed by the IRB, to ensure they are transparent and don’t make inappropriate claims.
When we launch a clinical trial, we don’t know if the treatment or drug will benefit patients. We always hope it does, but we must take a dispassionate, unbiased approach to the testing, and there are many protocols in place to ensure that will be the case. The trial allows us to gauge safety and effectiveness, while determining things like the best doses for a drug or its potential side effects.
There may be risks to participating in a trial. If we know of such risks, we will inform you of them when you sign up. But there may be unknown risks as well. This is the unavoidable nature of developing new medical offerings. If you choose to participate in a trial, don’t hesitate to ask questions. We want you to be fully informed.
To learn more about clinical trials, click here. That page also includes a link to a searchable database of our current trial offerings.
When it comes to clinical trials, we can’t predict if your condition will improve or how much it will improve, but this much is certain: You will be helping us to pioneer the treatments of tomorrow, and for that we are very grateful.