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Why take part in a clinical trial?

There are a number of benefits to participating in a clinical trial:

  • you will be assessed by highly-qualified medical practitioners or doctors and receive high quality care;
  • you may be one of the first people to benefit from a new drug that is not yet available;
  • your participation will be beneficial to the community as it will allow scientists and pharmaceutical companies to increase their knowledge of diseases and develop new drugs.

What are the disadvantages of participating in a clinical trial?

In some cases, volunteers or patients may consider that there was no benefit to take part in a research study because:

  • the treatment was not effective;
  • they experienced some side effects;
  • they were given the placebo instead of the active new drug.

Who can take part in a clinical trial?

There are precise guidelines set out for each clinical trial to determine who may or may not participate. These guidelines are called inclusion criteria (factors allowing someone to enter a clinical trial) and exclusion criteria (factors preventing someone from participating in a clinical trial).

Examples of criteria are age, gender, past and current treatment of condition, stage or type of disease and so on. Inclusion criteria aside, always remember that you are the only person who can decide whether or not to take part.

How are clinical trials volunteers or patients protected?

Unfortunately, the public only hears about clinical trials when something goes wrong even though hundreds of clinical trials are taking place throughout the world at any one time without any adverse events occurring. This is because there are many measures in place to protect volunteers and patients as follows:

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or Ethics Committees (ECs)

To protect volunteers and patients participating in clinical trials, the details of all trials must be approved by an independent ethics committee before any trial may start. Ethics committees review and advise on whether the proposed trial meets required ethical and scientific standards. The committee members are totally independent of the trial sponsor which means that they have no commercial or other interest in the trials.

Do you have to pay in order to participate in a clinical trial?

The answer is definitely no. You should never be asked to pay to take part in a trial. If you are ever asked to pay, refuse.

The new drug or the comparator are provided free of charge and in most cases, trial visits and associated trial procedures will also be free of charge.

In addition you should be reimbursed for the costs associated with your participation in the clinical trial such as for travel costs, parking and so on.

What has to be considered before taking part in a clinical trial?

Before taking part in a clinical trial, there are several aspects you may wish to consider in order to decide whether or not to proceed.

First of all, you may want to discuss it with your doctor, your family and friends: they may have an alternative point of view that influences your decision. In addition, you may not immediately realise that your decision to participate in a clinical trial may have an impact on their daily life too.

You may also want to discuss your participation with your patient support group or with other patients who have previously take part in clinical research.

You may wish to consider if the trial procedures will be acceptable to you. For example, some trials may require a blood sample. You should not hesitate to ask the clinical trial team any question you can think of.

It may be worth considering all aspects of your participation, not only those related to the drug itself but also how it might have an impact on your daily life. For example, you will need to find the time to visit the trial site regularly. In some case you may have to find someone to drive you there or to take care of your children during those visits.