It seems like every time you turn on the TV, there is an advertisement for a new medication, procedure, or treatment. But the process of drug approval (and availability) is a long and complicated one. Right now, researchers are studying thousands of new drugs and treatments for cancer and other conditions, such as diabetes, lupus, and asthma. These new treatment approaches are tested, both in and out of the laboratory, to see if and how they work in a select group of people. These closely monitored tests are called clinical trials.
Every new medication, procedure, and treatment that doctors use in the general population must first undergo a series of clinical trials before receiving the required Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
“Clinical trials help us find out if a promising new treatment is safe and effective for patients,” says Pat LoRusso, DO, who is the director of Yale Cancer Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital’s Early Phase Clinical Trials Program.
People who volunteer for clinical trials benefit from cutting-edge treatments not available elsewhere. They also become part of an effort to advance medicine, helping future patients to receive newer, better treatments, she says.