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Clinical Trials as a Treatment Option

When you’re dealing with a major health issue or condition, it’s helpful to know that in addition to standard treatment, complementary or alternative medicine, clinical trials may provide another treatment option. Clinical trials are research conducted on people in which new treatments are evaluated for their effectiveness and safety. The people who participate in clinical research are volunteers.

Reasons for participating in clinical trials

The reasons people choose to participate in clinical trials are as varied as the individuals themselves. Some of the common reasons people decide clinical trials are right for them include:

The clinical trial process is long and expensive, and it takes many years for a product to go through all the necessary steps to become an approved treatment. Some potential treatments fail to show effectiveness or have safety concerns and don’t pass all the requirements. However, many trials fail because they do not have enough participants. Regulatory agencies, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), require large groups of participants in trials to ensure the safety and effectiveness of therapies before they are available in market. It is estimated that 80-85% of clinical trials are delayed due to challenges finding and enrolling participants, and about 30% of trials fail because they can’t recruit any participants.2

Volunteering for a clinical trial

Each clinical trial has specific criteria that volunteers must meet to be able to participate, so not all people with the same condition will be eligible for the same trial. Some of the criteria is based on the disease or previous treatments, and other criteria relates to the individual, such as age, gender, and any other medical conditions.3

Are clinical trials only a last-resort option?

Sometimes, clinical trials are an option for people who have tried other therapies that have not helped their disease. However, there are other research trials that need volunteers who haven’t yet tried any treatment for their condition (called treatment naïve). For others, clinical trials can be an option when they can’t afford other treatments. Clinical trials can also be focused on finding the cause of a disease or evaluating the ways genetics may be involved in a particular condition.1,3

Considerations before joining a clinical trial

Before taking part in a clinical trial, it’s important to understand your treatment options and essential facts about the particular trial you are eligible for. Each volunteer is provided with an informed consent form, which includes important information about the trial, including its purpose, how long it is expected to last, any tests or procedures that are expected, and potential benefits and risks (like side effects). In addition, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns and questions, including all your options, the benefits and risks associated with each, and costs involved.3

  1. Getting Treatment in a Clinical Trial, Cancer.net. Available at http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/getting-treatment-clinical-trial. Accessed 10/23/17.
  2. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Available at https://foxtrialfinder.michaeljfox.org/understanding-clinical-trials/clinical-trials-101/. Accessed 10/23/17.
  3. Clinical Research versus Medical Treatment. Available at https://www.fda.gov/forpatients/clinicaltrials/clinicalvsmedical/default.htm. Accessed 10/23/17.

Comments

  • kmj82
    10 months ago

    How do I find clinical trials that i may be eligible to participate in??

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    10 months ago

    Great question & happy you asked! You can register via the link in this attachment to be notified when opportunities become available. – https://migraine.com/clinical/you-can-make-a-difference-with-migraine-com-triallink/. Additionally, you can go to https://clinicaltrials.gov/. Hope this helps & that you find a trial where you might meet the criteria! Good luck. -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • kmj82
    10 months ago

    Thank you

  • Tamara
    1 year ago

    Except when all of them don’t let you join one because you have zero pain free days (want chronic migraines but disqualify you if you have less than 5 pain free days a month, or are taking amtripyline for depression and they disqualify you because it is considered a preventative and you can’t take any for 2 months before you start. :/. Sorry as much as I would LOVE to try new treatments since nothing is working AT ALL on the migraines, I like not feeling down and suicidal every day.

    It’s lots of fun when you are a complicated case, headache specialist give up on you (and you have no way of trying another one because of stupid Canadian medical system), can’t try the new meds because you have too much going on for the trials and have no job or assistance (don’t qualify for ANY income support) and will not be able to afford the new meds anyway (even Cambia which I’ve tried samples of and works amazing is not covered and therefore can’t use).

    Sigh ….maybe I’ll luck out and my head will behave enough to enjoy some of the Christmas activities …. not holding my breathe though.

    Sorry rant over, just so frustrated with my broken body.

  • Amanda Workman moderator
    1 year ago

    I do understand where you are coming from with your frustrations. I personally do not qualify for clinical trials either because I have other health issues in addition to chronic migraine.
    Does Canada use prescription discount cards like are available in the US to help with the prescription copays? I know I personally use some for some of my prescriptions because they are way too expensive otherwise.
    I do hope that you were able to enjoy Christmas and New Years.
    Amanda Workman (moderator & contributor)

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