Patients have many questions about clinical trials. This section addresses some of the most common questions.
Randomization is a term meaning that when someone is in a clinical trial, there is an equal likelihood that they will be given the experimental or the standard treatment. Besides randomization, a clinical trial is usually blinded, meaning that neither the participant nor the doctor treating you knows who is getting which treatment so the results of the trial are unbiased. Drugs are given numbers and sham surgeries can be performed, but coordinators of the trial know who is getting what to ultimately be able to analyze the data.
Although many people think participating in a trial when all treatment options have failed, clinicians recommend finding out about clinical trials as early as possible in treatment to have a better understanding of all your treatment choices.
No. A major institution may be a coordinator of a clinical trial but under its auspices may have local physicians and community hospitals working with patients, too.
A participant may leave a trial at any time, but should inform the research team about doing so and why.
Clinical trials often test treatments, but they also study new diagnostics, screening methods, prevention measures and quality of life improvements, such as ways to reduce side effects of treatment.
Under certain circumstances someone might be able to obtain experimental treatments, also called investigational new drugs, if they cannot participate in a clinical trial. The Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers of investigational new drugs to provide the agents to someone with a serious disease who might benefit from the treatment under what is called “expanded access.” Also, someone might be ineligible for one trial, but be eligible for another one.
Also read, Clinical Trials Misconceptions.