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HomeMedical Information Innovative MedicineCan Clinical Trials save lives?

Can Clinical Trials save lives?

By: Medix Team
Can Clinical Trials save lives?

They’re not for everyone. But participating in a clinical trial can benefit many patients. When should you think about joining one?

Over the past decade, the number of clinical trials researching new drugs, medical devices and general health trends has not only doubled but is also now far more geographically diverse than ever before. This means that many more patients across the world can take part if they want to.

 

That’s particularly true in Asia where the number has almost quadrupled according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Its data shows that clinical trials in China rose from 1,267 to 9,449 between 2009 and 2019 and from 1,007 to 5,805 in India. Globally, there were 52,999 trials in 2019 compared to 24,751 a decade earlier.

 

Yet, while the overall number of trials has expanded, patients often remain uncertain about how to find one and whether it’s a good idea to join or not. One survey discovered that only 1 in 20 adult cancer patients in the US had enrolled in one, for example.  

 

A second US survey also revealed that only 16% of clinical trial participants learnt about it from their treating doctor.

 

There are a few ways of finding out about clinical trials. You can search for trials online by looking up your diagnosis and the associated teaching hospitals and academic research centres where they’re typically held.

You can search through the US National Library of Medicine’s global database of clinical trials (https://clinicaltrials.gov/) and the WHO’s International Clinical Trials registry (https://apps.who.int/trialsearch/). Patient and advocacy groups are also good information sources.

 

Asking your doctor for a referral, or for recommendations is always a good option. He or she can also liaise with the clinical trial team throughout the process.

 

As part of the Medix’ Global Personal Medical Case Management Service, we provide our customers with the necessary information and advice regarding clinical trials opportunities. When relevant, we assist in applying for enrolment.

 

Many clinical trials only allow a small number of participants. But if you’re deemed unsuitable for one trial, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be unsuitable for all.

 

There’s also no need to fear being a lab rat. Clinical trials in leading academic medical centres are reviewed by an institutional review board, which examines the potential risks and benefits to study participants. This ensures that clinical trial participants are exposed to minimal risk in relation to any benefits that might result from the research.  Enrolment involves a process of informed consent so that every participant understands the potential benefits and risks.

 

Patients with active cancer should also not worry about getting a placebo. In trials for advanced cancer, researchers compare one set of patients on a standard treatment with those trialling a new treatment.

 

At the end of the day, it’s an intensely personal decision and it is important to think carefully about what you hope to gain. 

Here are some of the main reasons why people join clinical trials: 

1. Achieve a better outcome for their illness

Study after study shows that this is the main reason for people who already have a disease. There may be no existing treatments, or other treatments have failed. Participants hope the clinical trial will provide a breakthrough.

 

2. Obtain new treatments before they become widely available 

Clinical trials frequently involve the cutting edge of scientific advancement, such as immunotherapy, or targeted genetics-based treatments.

 

3. Help future generations  

Giving something back is a powerful driving force. A woman suffering from breast cancer may also want to help her daughter and granddaughter in addition to society at large.

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