A clinical trial follows a careful plan called a protocol. Your doctor or nurse will explain the protocol and answer any questions. You must then sign a form giving informed consent to participate in the study. Many trials compare a new treatment with an existing treatment or a placebo. Randomization is used in clinical trials to assign participants to comparative groups by chance rather than design.
Phase I Trials
Conducting clinical trials and studies of new drugs are usually tested on a small group called participants. People who volunteer to take part in a clinical trial must be given all the information they need about the study, including what it involves and possible risks. They must then sign a form saying that they agree to take part. Researchers give the first few volunteers a low drug dose and watch them closely for side effects. Then they may provide the next few volunteers with a higher amount. It continues until doctors find a dose that works well and has few side effects. Phase II studies examine the medication on more sick people and compare it to current therapies. They also gather more information about the medicine’s long-term safety.
Phase II Trials
A phase II trial is the second step in testing a new treatment. It aims to determine how well the drug works for the condition being studied and what short-term side effects it may have. Volunteers are put into groups to receive different treatments. Usually, the first group will receive the new medicine being tested, while the other groups will receive either the existing standard treatment or a placebo. Doctors will then compare the results. Taking part in clinical research has many benefits. It can give participants access to new, potentially life-saving medicines. It can also improve their health care, as the information researchers gather will help doctors better treat their condition. However, some studies can have more risks than others, and the outcomes of trials are only sometimes conclusive.
Phase III Trials
After the medicine passes Phases I and II, researchers test it in larger groups of people. They compare it with existing treatment options or a placebo. Doctors and nurses must make sure participants fully understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to participating in a trial. This process is called informed consent. The FDA must approve a medicine in phase 3 before moving on to the next stage. Clinical studies in phase three assess the novel treatment’s safety and efficacy to the accepted standard of care.
Depending on the study, it may also involve extra tests or doctor visits. Research staff are available to answer any questions. If volunteers are happy to participate, they sign a form saying they understand the information and agree to participate. Some trials will last for a year or more. The results help other patients and doctors learn what works. They can then recommend the treatment for wider use.
Phase IV Trials
Clinical studies carried out following a drug’s approval makeup phase IV trials. The study of a drug’s toxicity profile and a general understanding of its safety can only be determined in part before licensure due to the sizeably small scale of developmental drug programs. Most clinical trials test new medicines against another treatment, called a control. It can be a standard drug already in use or a dummy treatment (a placebo). The comparison group is important because it allows researchers to know whether the new medicine is better than we have now. These trials are often called dose escalation studies. The first few participants will get a very low drug dose and are watched closely for side effects. If all goes well, the next few people will get a higher amount, and so on. Because doctors have yet to determine which treatment is best, the groups are picked at random (called randomized) so that neither the participants nor their doctors know which treatment they’re getting. It is a good thing because it prevents bias.
People who participate in clinical trials do so because they want to help improve medical knowledge and treatment options. Depending on the type of trial, participants may be recruited through verbal instructions, printed materials to read, or questionnaires. They are then randomly assigned to different groups who receive one or more treatments or tests. It helps to make the groups as similar as possible and makes the results more reliable. People are chosen to participate in a study by meeting certain criteria in the protocol. These criteria help ensure that the new approach is tested on a similar group of people to what will be used in practice. These criteria include age, gender, and other health conditions. This way, the researchers can ensure their results apply to real-world patients.
For participants, the benefits of taking part in a clinical trial may include being among the first to benefit from a new treatment. However, participants also risk losing access to standard care for their condition and may be monitored more closely than usual. The research team must give everyone who wants to take part all the information they need about the study, including its purpose, what will happen during and after the trial, and all possible risks and benefits. Then people can decide whether or not to participate. Usually, doctors must determine which group gets the experimental treatment and which receives a placebo (a pill with no active ingredients). Instead, they pick people randomly- a process called blinding – to be in each group.