Participating in Clinical Trials
Risks and Benefits
You may ask yourself, "Why should I join a clinical trial? Should I try something that hasn't been approved?" Asking questions is good because there are always some risks in joining a trial, but there may be benefits too.
Here are some possible benefits in joining a clinical trial.
- Your participation may help others get a better treatment for their disease in the future and allow researchers to learn more about how diseases can be prevented, identified, or managed.
- Researchers, doctors, and other health care professionals may check your physical condition frequently, giving you regular, careful medical attention, because they need data to make comparisons in a trial.
- It may be a way to get an experimental treatment for a life threatening illness before it is approved and widely available.
Here are some possible risks in joining a clinical trial.
- You may experience unpleasant, serious, or even life-threatening side effects.
- You may not get the experimental treatment, but a standard treatment or a placebo instead.
- The experimental treatment may not be better or even as good as the standard treatment for your condition.
- Even if a new procedure works for other people, it may not work for you.
Keep in mind that a few people have increased their risk of getting another condition during experimental drug trials.
For example, while testing the arthritis drug Vioxx as a treatment for colorectal polyps, researchers discovered that the drug increased the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. The drug has been taken off the market.
Another possible concern, though not a health risk, is that your health insurance or the trial may not cover all of your costs or expenses.