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Clinical Trial

Clinical Trial

Author: Jonathan Osters

This lesson will explain clinical trials.

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Video Transcription

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In this tutorial, we're going to talk about clinical trials. Now, clinical trials are a very, very specialized form of an experiment. They're done on humans. And they're usually used to test medicine. Clinical trials are a very specific kind of experiment.

Some government entity or pharmaceutical company wants to try out a newly adopted drug. And the only way that they can do that is by testing it on people. And they're going to test the overall safety and efficacy of the drug. So is it safe? And does it work?

Clinical trials typically are the last step before bringing the drug to market. They can be very, very time consuming. And they can be very, very expensive. They can be time consuming because different levels of the clinical trial might take years. And they can be very expensive because the pharmaceutical company is footing the bill for all of this.

So all of this is very, very important that they get it right. Because the pharmaceutical company stands, probably, to make a lot of money on an approved drug. Because the participants are humans, and because we don't know exactly how the drug's going to work, there are risks along with the potential benefits of a clinical trial.

When a person agrees to be in a clinical trial, they have to be made aware of the benefits and the risks. And then they sign a document. And this is called informed consent. The benefits are that they can gain access to new research treatments before they're widely available.

This is really, really helpful with people who are at the end of the road with current treatments. They can get expert medical care at the leading health care facilities. And they can help others with their same condition by participating in medical research that can help save lives down the road. Those are the benefits.

The risks, though, are that there could be side effects that they don't know about. Those side effects might be very unpleasant. They could be even life-threatening. And finally, the treatment might not even work. So it's possible that there are going to be these risks alongside the benefits. And that's what a patient has to agree to before a clinical trial can start.

And so to recap, clinical trials are designed to help drug companies and government agencies to decide whether or not a drug is safe and effective. There are benefits. But there are also potential risks. And so before starting, everyone has to provide informed consent. So the term that we talked about was clinical trial. Good luck. We'll see you next time.

Terms to Know
Clinical Trial

An experiment where a pharmaceutical company or government agency tests the safety and efficacy of an experimental drug, medical device or therapy for human use.