Clinical trials

Clinical trials are the ways that many new medical treatments get tested, whether they are devices, drugs or some other treatment. These medical research studies are extremely important to the advancement of medical science and also to the health and well-being of the populace.

Clinical trials are essentially research studies that aim to test whether a medical treatment improves a patient condition and whether it causes any adverse side effects. A clinical study is one of the last steps in the development of medical treatments. Once a drug or device finishes a clinical study, it goes on to animal testing and then human testing if it appears to work and demonstrates safety for patients.

Clinical trials usually are done in phases. In a phase 1 clinical trial, researchers work with small groups of people to assess whether a medical treatment causes harm. If it does, then the clinical study will likely be ended at that point. If the drug or treatment does not cause significant harm, the trial will progress to further stages where researchers will assess whether the treatment has benefits, especially benefits that are new or better than an existing similar treatment. They also will look for risks that the treatment may present.

Clinical drug development and other forms of clinical trials can take years, and they often wind up not producing a new and effective treatment. Drug companies and other companies in the healthcare fields can spend tens of millions of dollars on what they think are promising treatments and then find out at the clinical study stage or later that the treatment doesn’t work or that it has harmful side effects.

Clinical studies are not open to everyone. There typically are strict parameters about who can participate. Age, sex, stage of condition or disease, previous history of treatments for the condition that is the focus of the study and other medical factors all can affect who is eligible. In some cases, the studies want people who have a certain disease; in others, they seek out people who are healthy. Those who do participate are advised ahead of time of what risks they are taking and they give their informed consent.

Clinical trials are an important part of the drug and treatment development process, and they play a key role in the healthcare industry.

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