ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALS

Clinical trials are a set of procedures in medical research conducted to allow safety (or more specifically, information about adverse drug reactions and adverse effects of other treatments) and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions (e.g., drugs, diagnostics, devices, therapy protocols). These trials can take place only after satisfactory information has been gathered on the quality of the non-clinical safety, and Health Authority/Ethics Committee approval is granted in the country where the trial is taking place.

Depending on the type of product and the stage of its development, investigators enroll healthy volunteers and/or patients into small pilot studies initially, followed by larger scale studies in patients that often compare the new product with the currently prescribed treatment. As positive safety and efficacy data are gathered, the number of patients is typically increased. Clinical trials can vary in size from a single center in one country to multicenter trials in multiple countries.

Due to the sizable cost a full series of clinical trials may incur, the burden of paying for all the necessary people and services is usually borne by the sponsor who may be a governmental organization, a pharmaceutical, or biotechnology company. Since the diversity of roles may exceed resources of the sponsor, often a clinical trial is managed by an outsourced partner such as a contract research organization or a clinical trials unit in the academic sector.

In planning a clinical trial, the sponsor or investigator first identifies the medication or device to be tested. Usually, one or more pilot experiments are conducted to gain insights for design of the clinical trial to follow. In medical jargon, effectiveness is how well a treatment works in practice and efficacy is how well it works in a clinical trial. In the U.S., the elderly comprise only 14% of the population but they consume over one-third of drugs.[1] Despite this, they are often excluded from trials because their more frequent health issues and drug use produce unreliable data. Women, children, and people with unrelated medical conditions are also frequently excluded.[2]

In coordination with a panel of expert investigators (usually physicians well known for their publications and clinical experience), the sponsor decides what to compare the new agent with (one or more existing treatments or a placebo), and what kind of patients might benefit from the medication or device. If the sponsor cannot obtain enough patients with this specific disease or condition at one location, then investigators at other locations who can obtain the same kind of patients to receive the treatment would be recruited into the study.

During the clinical trial, the investigators: recruit patients with the predetermined characteristics, administer the treatment(s), and collect data on the patients' health for a defined time period. These patients are volunteers and they are not paid for participating in clinical trials. These data include measurements like vital signs, concentration of the study drug in the blood, and whether the patient's health improves or not. The researchers send the data to the trial sponsor who then analyzes the pooled data using statistical tests.


PATIENT REGISTRATION

Boca Raton Clinical Research follows HIPAA Guidelines and maintains patient confidentiality. Patient registration, medical history, family history and trial participation is stored in our patient database and is never shared or sold