What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are research studies devoted to discovering new or promising therapies for naturally occurring disease. They are scientific experiments designed to answer specific clinical questions, including:
- Does the new or experimental treatment have a therapeutic effect on the pet’s disease?
- Is the new or experimental treatment better than the current standard therapy?
- Is the procedure or treatment well tolerated?
Why Conduct Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are often conducted to improve the health of pets, and discover new, safe and effective methods to treat and diagnose disease. Many diseases have no good therapies, or respond only partially (or not at all) to current medications or procedures. These trials also help provide cutting edge experimental treatments.
How are Clinical Trials Monitored and Conducted?
A principal investigator is responsible to oversee each clinical trial. All potential studies are first reviewed internally and our institution has the authority to modify or disapprove study trials before they are offered. In order to compare whether one treatment or procedure works better than another, participants are usually assigned randomly:
- One group receives standard treatment while the other receives the new treatment.
- If a standard treatment does not exist, one group will receive a placebo.
- Clinical trials can be stopped at any time if the investigator conducting the trial finds that one group is doing much worse or much better than the other.
Should I Participate in a Clinical Trial?
Participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary. Enrollment is generally most possible at the time of a pet’s initial diagnosis, before the start of treatment. The decision to participate should be made in close consultation with your veterinarian.
- Informed Consent – The study investigator will provide study trial participants with all information about the study and its possible effects. The dialog regarding your participation in a trial and your acceptance to enroll your pet, is known as informed consent.
- Risks and Benefits – Some studies, such as Phase 1 Clinical Trials, may carry significant risks and for this reason, may be offered only to a small group of patients who have exhausted current standard treatment options. In other studies, such as Phase III Clinical Trials, potential treatments have already been found to be safe and effective, and the clinical trial is conducted to compare efficacy against standard therapy for a particular disease.
- Potential Funding – Some clinical trials have independent funding intended to reduce or eliminate the costs of medical procedures, tests, and medications for enrolled patients. Your doctor will discuss these opportunities with you.