Clinical Trials: Help Yourself and Help Others

January 25, 2012 9:07:22 AM PST
A recent government report on clinical trials show current practices protect participants from harm.

This after some unethical research sponsored by the US Public Health Service was made public last year involving thousands of volunteers in Guatemala in the 1940's being exposed to sexually transmitted diseases without their knowledge.

Today, without trials, developing new treatments for diseases and advancing medicine would be near impossible. andrew mcintosh reports on the importance of clinical trials and how you can get involved.

Every day Karen Anderson gets to spend with her daughter is a gift. She was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and given six months to live. That was four years ago. Karen credits clinical trials for the extra time she has been given.

"I would not be here if not for the trials," said Karen.

Robert Breece's blood pressure was out of control. But with the help of a clinical trial it went from 225 over 125 to a much healthier 128 over 68.

"It has made a huge difference with my blood pressure," said Breece.

Without people like Karen and Robert, advancements in medicine wouldn't be possible.

"If patients aren't willing to enter clinical trials, then we can't help," said Dr. Eric Hoffman, Director Research Center For Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center.

"Often times drugs are offered free of charge as part of the trial. Then the only thing you have to understand is that you are doing something that ultimately will probably help you and help others with a similar style disease," said Dr. Domenic A. Sica, M.D., Professor of Internal and Nephrology Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

To find a trial, first ask your doctor. You can also check out these resources: The database has more than 117,000 current studies. has more than 8,000 actively recruiting trials. Check national newspapers and the websites of medical universities.

Patient advocacy groups like the American Heart Association can also help. Now on her seventh clinical trial, that's what Karen wants to do, help future generations.

"At some point, melanoma will kill me. But when it does, I want to know that I've done something so that you know another family doesn't have to go through this," said Karen.

Those considering enrolling in a clinical trial should know that whether a new treatment will work cannot be known ahead of time. It could even be harmful. Even so, researchers say you are closely monitored and can be taken off one trial and put into another until you do see some improvement. All trials are voluntary and you can leave at any time.

? For More Information, Contact:

Clinical Trials