- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
This piece is presented by Sanford Health.
“Clinical trials” can sound like a scary term. So many patients are put off by the idea of participating simply because of certain misconceptions they might have. We asked experts at Sanford Health to help set the record straight on the clinical trial process.
Clinical trials treat patients like guinea pigs, exposing them to dangerous, experimental drugs.
“A majority of clinical trials are using drugs that have already been tested, approved and are currently being prescribed for different uses. Many clinical trials are seeing if they can be used in new ways. And if we didn’t think a trial was safe, we would never put patients on it. We are only going to put a patient on a clinical trial if we’re convinced that it’s going to be safe and that there’s a good expectation that it will help them. For most of my patients, after a discussion regarding risks and benefits of a clinical trial, they understand that this is not about being a guinea pig. This is about having another option. But if after that conversation the patient decides it is not for them, that’s OK, too. But for others, it’s a great option and we want to make sure that we open that door for our patients.” – Dr. Jonathan Bleeker, Medical Oncologist
I’ll get a “sugar pill” or placebo instead of actual medicine.
“Your health is our top priority. All patients enrolled in clinical trials will still receive the normal, standard of care. What we are doing in a clinical trial is essentially giving a patient something extra that has the potential to work alongside the standard treatment to their benefit.
Now, there are some trials that may require a control group, where those randomly assigned to that group would receive a placebo in addition to their typical treatment. But before you enroll, you would be made aware of the possibility that you might receive a placebo. However, many of our trials don’t use placebos and you’ll be aware of what treatment you are receiving at the start of the trial.” – Dr. Steven Powell, Medical Oncologist
Clinical trials are only for cancer patients who have no other options.
“Clinical trials are used in almost every area of medicine and for people at all stages of disease. It is true that many times we do utilize clinical trials when the standard of care isn’t working or if there is no standard of care at all. But we can also use some of these new treatments alongside traditional ones right from the start.
For example, the majority of pediatric cancer patients are entered into clinical trials early on in their care. This has shown to be a great benefit for both those patients and for the advancement of medicine in that area. The most important thing to do is ask your doctor what is available to you.” – Dr. Jonathan Bleeker, Medical Oncologist
Once I enroll, I can’t leave the study.
“It is absolutely your right to leave a clinical trial if you wish. At any point and for any reason, you can decide to quit. However, if you are having questions or concerns, we would hope that you would feel comfortable coming to your care team for answers and advice. We will do our best to lay out the pros and cons and alleviate any fears you may be having concerning the trial. But at the end of the day, it is your health and your decision, and we will support you no matter your choice.” – Dr. Maria Bell, Gynecologic Oncologist
I’ll have to pay extra to be involved in a clinical trial.
“For the most part, you won’t see any increase in the cost of your care when you participate in a clinical trial. There are always exceptions, but your medical insurance will typically cover charges involving any additional tests or treatments you receive while you are participating in a clinical trial, like blood tests or scans to check on your response. And you won’t be billed for these new drugs or any treatments done specifically for a research purpose. All of this information will be expressly stated in the consent forms you sign before enrolling.” – Dr. Steven Powell, Medical Oncologist
Sanford Health experts help set the record straight on the clinical trial process.