Why are clinical trials important?
Without clinical trials, there cannot be advancements or innovations in medicine. There won’t be better treatment options, better ways to diagnose illnesses, or better ways to even prevent illnesses. Clinical trials help researchers to understand if new drugs, treatments, devices, diagnostic methods, etc. also work in humans. For example, before a drug goes into human clinical trials, they are usually tested in animals and if successful, they advance on into clinical trials on humans. Researchers then test the safety and effectiveness of drugs, devices, diagnostic methods, etc. in humans. Clinical trials are governed by strict protocols and overseen by many different regulatory bodies, such as Independent Review Boards (IRBs) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Age-related death rates for coronary heart disease in the US were cut in half from 1980 to 2000. This was not a coincidence, but the result of clinical research and new therapies as a result thereof. Without clinical trials, public health in the US would not be where it is today.
Critics of clinical trials often see them as a profit-driven “experiments” to make pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and medical device companies even more money. However, what they forget is the fact that clinical trials have actually saved the lives of millions already. Diseases like polio or measles have almost been completely eradicated in the US. The diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence anymore, and neither is the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. All made possible through research done in clinical trials.
Important to note: clinical trials are not always conducted to find new drugs. Often, they are conducted to get more information about the safety and benefits of existing treatments or combinations of existing treatments. This helps patients and doctors to get a better understanding and better information when it comes to choosing between treatments.
Behind every drug you take, behind every FDA approved treatment, device and diagnosis, there is a clinical trial. Thousands of patients have volunteered to make this possible and they are the reason why there were big breakthroughs in the prevention and treatments of illnesses. Without the willingness of these volunteers, many people would have suffered because of disease and/or even died. Clinical trial volunteers are nothing less than heroes who are playing the part in improving the care of all Americans.