Medical trials – also known as clinical trials or drug trials – are part of the process every new medicine goes through before it is licensed and supplied to hospitals and family doctors. It’s a process required by law and there is a great deal of legislation to protect those who participate, both as sponsors of a trial and as participants in a trial. They are vastly expensive and employ experienced professionals to run them.
How to Apply for Medical Trials
The process of applying is fairly simple. Applicants are given a health questionnaire asking them to declare every illness they have ever had. This is important because there are some circumstances under which an applicant cannot be accepted as a healthy volunteer. It’s better to learn this at the application stage than on the ward.
Once an applicant’s medical history has been assessed, they are invited to a medical screening, in which their general health will be assessed. They will also be tested for any underlying conditions that they may not be aware of and any sexually transmitted infections. The one advantage of this is that the UK National Health Service rarely offers such a thorough assessment to its populace.
Once an applicant has passed the physical screening, they are accepted onto the healthy volunteer panel and are eligible to apply for the various trials currently being planned. Those who are interested must register on the volunteer panel with the central clinic and they will be invited for a second screening.
This second physical screening will measure the volunteer’s blood in relation to the parameters of the trial. Not every volunteer on the panel will be eligible for every trial companies like GSK are conducting. If they were, results would almost certainly be skewed, leading to a limited picture from the raw data generated in these trials. Drugs undergoing a trial process must be put through as many trials as possible to ensure their safety and efficacy.
Once the volunteer sample group has been selected, they are invited to a consent talk. Attendance is mandatory because it’s here that volunteers will learn about the trial drug, the protocols they will go through and any restrictions they must adhere to, not to mention, of course, any side effects they could experience. They must sign to say they willingly give their consent to participate. If they choose not to consent, they may withdraw and there will be no effect on future participation.
Benefits of Participating in Clinical Trials
People from all walks of life participate in medical trials, from manual workers, to medical students, to company executives. Many are interested in observing science at work; while others are contended knowing they are participating in the creation of the medicines of the future. Healthy volunteers are paid an honorarium for their time and commitment. This usually starts at £50, going up according to the amount of time required. Participants are free to leave a trial early, if they wish, but it will affect their honorarium.