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Clinical Trials

September 2, 2010

What is a clinical trial???

A clinical trial is a research study designed to essentially find out if a vaccine or therapy is effective. There are multiple types of clinical trials that range from finding out how to make life better for people with a chronic illness to finding out better ways to diagnose an illness. All clinical trials consist of four phases. Each phase expands the amount of people who participate and receive the treatment in the trial. The first phase has about 20-80 participants and by the third phase there will be 1000+ participants. During the phases scientists are able to evaluate the treatments safety and identify any side effects it might have. And if the treatment/drug seems to be effective with minor side effects it will reach phase four where it is licensed and marketed.

Recently, I examined a double-blind, placebo study for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee (clinical trial). During the “examination” of it, I was able to figure out exactly what a double-blind study and a placebo is. In my own words a double-blind study is basically a study where neither the patients nor the study staff are aware of who is receiving the actual drug and who is receiving the placebo. A placebo is an inactive drug that doesn’t do anything to the patients who receive it in the double-blind study. Using a placebo in the study allows you to compare the patients that actually received the drug and who didn’t and at the end of the study it will help you see how effective the real drug is. Personally, I think that doing a double-blind placebo setup, in a clinical trial is the best way to go because you will get objective results. And objective results are exactly what you want when it comes to testing a new drug!

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