Understanding Clinical Trials

During clinical trials, researchers evaluate the safety and effectiveness of potential new treatments by monitoring their effects on groups of people. There are three primary phases to clinical trials:

Phase 1 trials determine the safety of a medicine by studying the effect on a small group (e.g., 20 to 100) of healthy volunteers.

Phase 2 trials test the medicine in a slightly larger group (e.g., 100 to 500) of volunteers who have the disease or condition the medicine is designed to treat. Phase 2 trials determine effectiveness, examine side effects and determine optimal dosing.

Phase 3 trials generate statistically significant information about the safety and efficacy of the medicine by enlisting a much larger group (e.g., 1,000 to 5,000) of participants.

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Why would I want to join a clinical trial?​

Participation in a clinical trial often provides volunteers access to the latest, most innovative potential treatments. It not only benefits the individual, it can also help increase scientific knowledge that may result in medical innovations for future patients.

All clinical trials involving human volunteers are monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure high safety standards and processes are followed, but as with any medical treatment, participation in a clinical trial offers benefits and risks. Potential benefits and risks will be clearly explained to individuals who volunteer to participate in a clinical trial so you can feel confident about making the best decision. Volunteers always reserve the right to end their participation, even if the study is not over. ​It's always best to discuss with your physician whether a clinical trial is right for you.​​​

Increasing participation of populations historically underrepresented in clinical trials helps researchers find better ways to fight diseases that disproportionately impact diverse populations.

Simply stated, clinical trials can lead to better health for individuals, families and communities. Achieving significant medical breakthroughs is not possible without clinical trials volunteers.​​​

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