Understanding clinical trials
A clinical trial is a particular type of research that explores whether a medical strategy, treatment or device is safe and effective for humans.
Involving patients, healthy volunteers or both, a clinical trial is one part of a long and careful research process. Clinical trials provide researchers with the opportunity to potentially find better treatments for others in the future, as well as offering hope for many people.
What do clinical trials do?
Clinical trials are used to help find out if a treatment:
Is safe to use
Has any side effects
Works better than a standard treatment
Helps make you feel better
Why clinical trials are important
Although all new drugs, treatments and devices are rigorously tested in the laboratory they must also go through clinical trials so more can be found out about their potential benefits or risks.
We need clinical trials to find out what does and doesn’t work in medicine and healthcare. A new treatment is not always better than existing treatments. Clinical trials are therefore very important as they can provide essential answers.
Why do people take part in clinical trials?
From a survey of 5,701 patients, the top perceived benefits were seen as:1
Advancing science and treatment
Helping to improve or save lives
Helping to improve my condition
1. http://www.centerwatch.com/images/infographics/Understanding-Clinical-Trials-Infographic-low.png Accessed June 2017.
Types of clinical trial
Clinical trials come in many different formats, these are called phases.
Each phase has a distinct purpose and helps researchers answer a variety of questions on safety, effectiveness and the right dose to use.
A Phase one trial is the first time a new medicine is tested in humans and is usually carried out with a small group of healthy volunteers or sometimes patients.