Every new drug or treatment in the UK that is prescribed to patients by a doctor needs first to be approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. To do this the drug needs to have first undergone a period of development and a series of detailed medical trials and Clinical Trials. In general there are four main trial stages. Phase 1 trials involve healthy participants who do not suffer from any health issues. Phase 2 trials involve patients who suffer from the condition in question being given the drug to identify short-term effects. Phase 3 trials are when patients with the condition are given either the drug or a placebo or existing treatment so that the drug’s efficacy can be assessed. Finally, phase 4 trials (optional) are when the drug is given to patients in the real world so that it’s true impact can be identified.
While these trials are not always a success, on the whole even when they don’t give the desired results they don’t tend to harm those who take part. By the time the drug reaches human trials it will have already been through a thorough investigation in the lab (and in many cases also on animals) to ascertain that it is as safe as it can be. It’s true that there have been a few notable exceptions in the past such as the Northwick Park drug trial in 2006 but happily these are rare. In addition to this, if you are involved in phase 2,3 or 4 trials carried out sufferers of the condition, then the probability that it will have a serious adverse effect can be considered to be even lower having been already been given to other human beings and done them no harm.
As drugs have to go through so many stages of development and testing before they can be brought to market, it can take years before the latest medical breakthroughs arrive in the hands of sufferers where they can start to do real widespread good. One way to cut the time that you have to wait before you finally get to try the latest treatments being proposed, is to volunteer to be a participant in the medical trials. For some who are desperate for a solution to their pain and have found that nothing available to them has worked so far, this can be very tempting option. But how do you sign up and what does it involve? If you want to know more then follow the link below.
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