Friday, November 6, 2015

Important but scary clinical trials

We always hear about these new lifesaving drugs that are discovered and going through clinical trials. The good part of clinical trials is that they help other patients who get their diagnosis later on. It is also supposed to help the current patient who has a late stage disease for which there is no cure.

There is a scary side to clinical trials for these late stage patients. Will the new drug kill them or cause horrible side effects?

As patients we hear about clinical trials and how new drugs are always coming out and if we go on clinical trials they will help future patients. 'You are doing something good as well as trying to save your life.'  That is the Rah-Rah-Take-One-For-The-Team attitude that pushes forth on the wave of clinical trials. You can do it! You are helping others!

But no one ever talks about the fact that the clinical trial drugs are very unproven, which are why they are in clinical trials, and not much is know about them. The official definition of a stage I clinical trial is:

"Phase I: Researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects."

So not much is know about its safety. Will it kill the patient? Will the side effects be horrible and weaken your body so you cannot handle other future medications?

I never really thought about this until I read this article, 'Breakthrough drugs are saving lives but wrenching souls', the other day.

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