Secrets of An Insider
Secrets From An “Insider” About Clinical Trials
True. I’m an “insider.” Inside the world of clinical trials, that is. And, although it’s not a cliff-cliff-hanger of a mystery series on tv or a recent spell binding book series, the whole process of deciding to participate, the treatment, the tests, possible side effects and results of a clinical trial, appear to be a mystery to all who are considering joining one.
How am I familiar with the so-called mystery? Well, I have participated in four clinical trials and therefore, am awarded the title of “insider.”
Let’s begin with a definition: What is a clinical trial? It’s a scientific study, conducted within very specific regulations with human participants (a pre-clinical trial is conducted with animals) whose goal is to find new and more effective treatments for patients. Every ethical (prescription medication) approved by the Food and Drug Administration has to go through a series of clinical trials in order to be approved and offered to the public. Drugs are tested for dosing, safety and efficacy for all manner of medications. When you’re a patient, a new drug may offer new hope. That’s a very promising potential.
Just briefly, clinical trials come in phases – one for dosing/safety, one for efficacy and one comparing a new drug with an older one. I learned much of this as a pharmaceutical representative, national trainer and a nursing instructor. And, then, le pièce de resistance, I became a patient, an oncology patient, myself. But, as mentioned above, clinical trials, involve all types of medications treating diverse illnesses, not just cancer.
My experience in all four clinical trials has been very positive. The first trial was observational only and got me “ready”/or informed me of a second trial. My second trial brought me to a complete response from my cancer for four years. While I was on the second trial, I participated in a third trial simultaneously, rarely done. The fourth trial was also successful, but less so. I was extremely carefully monitored for response rates and safety with CT/PET scans, blood work, physical exams, biopsies in addition to general physical exams. Everything and I do mean everything was documented.
Why did I do it? To gain access to the latest and greatest treatments. More importantly, to hopefully bring about new treatments for the patients who will be following me in the future. When those new patients show up at the doctor’s office looking for the latest and greatest, maybe these clinical trials will offer them a more effective treatment and hope for the future.