Considering a Clinical Trial? What You Should Know

Reading about the latest miracle medication to hit the market after success in clinical trials, you may have wondered who are these people who offer themselves up to science? You may even have considered participating in a clinical trial yourself. But are you a good candidate? And what's in it for you?


1. You'll have access to cutting-edge treatments. Let's say you suffer from a chronic condition and your medication is no longer doing the trick. Participating in a clinical trial ostensibly would let you try a medication that's years away from being available to the general public. Try to get into Phase Three or later trials, because at that point scientists are certain that a new treatment definitely works. There's more uncertainty in Phase One and Phase Two.

2. You'll receive excellent medical care. Because the research team is so invested in finding out whether a promising treatment actually works, you'll be monitored and followed carefully. Chances are you'll receive a higher level of medical care than usual.

3. You're contributing to science. Your willingness to participate will allow others to benefit from new treatments in the future.


1. You may be in a control group. Generally, Phase Three trials involve putting a new medication against an established one in order to confirm its effectiveness. So it's not a guarantee that you'll be taking the cutting-edge drug. You may continue to take your regular medication or even be given a placebo.

2. Some costs may not be covered. Typically, whoever is sponsoring the trial will pay for the treatment being studied along with any extra tests and doctor's appointments that are necessary. However, routine costs such as regular medical checkups that you would receive whether part of the trial or not may not be covered. Also, your travel expenses to and from the trial location might not be covered.

3. There may be health risks. New treatments often times can carry risks, from annoying side effects to serious complications. Know what those risks are before you decide to sign up.

The best way to find out about clinical trials is to ask your doctor. Hospitals and medical centers regularly recruit candidates for all kinds of trials. Clinical trials have strict eligibility requirements, however, so you may have to research a few to find one that's right for you.




National Institutes of Health

Arthritis Foundation

National Cancer Institute