Thoughts before joining a clinical trial
The Savvy SeniorJune 26, 2013 | 2,175 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about clinical trials and how to go about finding one? My wife has a chronic condition and we’re interested in trying anything that may be able to help her.
Looking For Help
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in clinical trials in hopes of gaining access to the latest, and possibly greatest, but not yet on the market treatments for all types of illnesses. But, you need to be aware that clinical trials can vary greatly in what they’re designed to do, so be careful to choose one that can actually benefit your wife. Here’s what you should know along with some tips for locating one.
A clinical trial is the scientific term for a test or research study of a drug, device or medical procedure using people. These trials -- sponsored by drug companies, doctors, hospitals, and the federal government -- are conducted to learn whether a new treatment is safe and if it works. But, keep in mind that these new treatments are also unproven, so there may be risks too.
Also be aware that all clinical trials have certain eligibility criteria (age, gender, health status, etc.) that your wife must meet in order to be accepted. And before taking part in a trial, she’ll be asked to sign an informed consent agreement. She can also leave a study at any time.
Things to Know
Before deciding to participate in a trial, you and your wife need to first discuss it with her doctor. Then, schedule an appointment with the study’s medical team and ask lots of questions. Here are some to get you started.
•What’s the purpose of the study and can it improve your wife’s condition? You may be surprised to know that many drug or procedural trials are not designed to find a cure or improve a patient’s health, but only to provide scientific data.
•What are the risks? Some treatments can have side effects that are unpleasant, serious and even life threatening.
•What kinds of tests and treatments does the study involve, and how often and where they are performed?
•Is the experimental treatment in the study being compared with a standard treatment or a placebo? Keep in mind that if your wife gets the placebo, she’ll be getting no treatment at all.
•Who’s paying for the study? Will you have any costs, and if so, will your insurance plan or Medicare cover the rest? Sponsors of trials generally pay most of the costs, but not always.
•What if something goes wrong during or after the trial and your wife needs extra medical care? Who pays?
•If the treatment works, can your wife keep using it after the study?
Find a Trial
Every year, there are more than 100,000 clinical trials conducted in the U.S. You can find them at condition-focused organizations like the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association, or by asking her doctor who may be monitoring trials in his or her specialty.
Or, use the National Institutes of Heath’s website at clinicaltrials.gov. This site contains a comprehensive database of federally and privately supported clinical studies in the U.S. and abroad on a wide range of diseases and conditions, including information about each trial’s purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details.
If, however, you don’t have Internet access or could use some help finding the right trial, use the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (ciscrp.org). This is a nonprofit organization that will take your wife’s information over the phone and do a thorough clinical trials search for you, and mail or email you the results in a few days. Call 877-633-4376 for assistance.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)