Unfortunately, many people know very little about the process or how it can benefit them directly.
A lack of volunteers is among the biggest roadblocks for researchers attempting to develop new pharmaceuticals. In order to develop the most effective clinical trials, an educated and informed patient population is absolutely essential.
Judy Stone, MD, is doing her part to help bring that information to the public. Dr. Stone recently wrote an illuminating article on the clinical trials process, which went into great detail about the importance and the history of clinical trials. Her post, which originally appeared on the Molecules to Medicine blog for The Scientific American, is required reading for any patient who wants to learn more about clinical trials.
The best clinical trials are obviously the ones that develop the most workable data. Additionally, a patient with a life-threatening disease can often find a potential treatment option that isn't otherwise available.
That's not to say that clinical trials offer "magic treatments" that are being withheld from the general population. It's important for each patient and physician to evaluate all of the information to embark on the most beneficial course of action. That's a big reason why Dr. Stone's post on the topic is so helpful.
Dr. Stone breaks down the history of clinical trials, from 1747 ("when James Lind gave sailors different dietary supplements, in an effort to prevent scurvy, an illness due to Vitamin C deficiency") to the Vaccine Act of 1813 to the Import Drugs Act of 1848 to the accidental discovery of Viagra, as well as all of the ethical implications that are so essential to any clinical trial's development.
The University of Arizona Cancer Center is among the nation's leaders in bringing promising new treatments from the lab to the public. The clinicians at the UACC are engaged in more than 200 clinical trials, many of which need volunteers. Please visit our clinical trials page to see if you or anyone you know may be eligible for one of these trials.
The National Cancer Institute has a wealth of excellent information on the topic, as well.
• Clinical trials for beginners (The Health Care Blog, July 16, 2012)
• Molecules to medicine (ScientificAmerican.com, Oct. 6, 2011)
• NCI clinical trials information (Cancer.gov)
• University of Arizona Cancer Center clinical trials (ArizonaCancerCenter.org)
• Dr. Judy Stone's official website (@JudyStone on Twitter)