How Do I Choose a Clinical Trial?
We had some posts over the last year about ongoing clinical trials, what is being studied right now and what promising new developments are giving us hope. But we at FindMeCure want to go a step further and give you practical advice on how to choose a clinical trial because we know if it’s your first time searching for one, there are some terms that might need a bit of explaining.
So, let’s talk about choosing the right clinical trial if you haven’t been directed to one by your doctor. Every medication available in our day is on the market thanks to all the people who took part the clinical trial for it. But what are the steps to take after opening FindMeCure in a new tab and writing your condition in the search bar?Search for clinical trials now
First, be as specific as the algorithm allows. Instead of searching for “osteoarthritis”, choose “OA knee” if that’s what you’re looking for. Then, select all the filters that apply: your location is important, as well as your age. Other options however, are only up to you and this is where it could get confusing if you come unprepared, although there is a small window of information which pops up when you hover with your mouse above any given option. But let’s give you the longer version here.
How do I choose a phase? What does it even mean?
A phase just signifies how far along the study is, phase IV being the so-called “post-marketing” phase, when the drug is already approved for marketing by the FDA. It can still be in an ongoing clinical trial because, although proven safe for use in the general population, the drug is being tested in order to gather more information about optimal use. Phase I, II and III are the most important. In phase I the drug’s safety is tested (usually with healthy volunteers) with emphasis on the possible side effects. By the time an IND (investigational new drug) reaches phase II, its safety is more or less established and the goal is to test the effects of the drug on a particular disease.
However, in phase II side effects and optimal dosage are still under investigation. Phase III is when a drug can be estimated to be “promising” (and this is why, when we give you info about new drugs being investigated, we link to trials phase III). Basically, phase III compares the new drug or treatment to the existing one for the disease in question and if it proves to be more effective or better in a certain aspect (like for example, it’s just as effective of a painkiller but it has less side effects, or it comes with some additional benefits), it applies for FDA approval. So, not all treatments under investigation are a giant leap forward, but they definitely need to be an improvement is some way in order to get to the market.
Okay, cool but who pays for it?
Does my insurance cover clinical trials? Well, about your insurance – it depends on your country health politics, so check with a specialist what costs your insurance can cover. Generally, the study sponsor covers expenses – the treatment itself, medical tests and check-ups, all necessary procedures and visits to the doctor. Some clinical trial sponsors can even offer to pay your travel expenses or other “extra” stuff. In any case, once you’ve made up your mind to try a clinical trial you can go through the available information with your doctor by your side and discuss all the options. Contact your health-care provider (if you don’t know how, your doctor should) and ask about the clinical trial that’s on your mind but also ask about other clinical trials, as that particular one might not be covered, while other options are.
What else do I need to know?
The study protocol is made simple to understand on FindMeCure. There is the “overview”, which gives you basic information about the trial in general – it’s purpose, sponsor and the interventions you can anticipate. However, if you have additional questions, and “more info” comes up with a blank page, you or your doctor can contact the sponsor before hitting “apply”. Just make sure you’re eligible first.
But what does it mean to be eligible? Well, there are certain criteria – inclusion and exclusion – which determine whether you’ll benefit from the clinical trial and whether your participation will provide the data they need. And in case you’re not eligible for this particular trial but the treatment being tested could potentially save your life, you can apply for “expanded access”.
So, here they are – the most frequent concerns when it comes to choosing a clinical trial. We’re not your personal physician but we hope we were exhaustive in covering your questions. But because, again, we’re not your personal physician – turn to them with any other questions you might have or even just to check the info we give you here.