Mansell, Engel & Cole

Should you have more access to experimental treatments?

Many Oklahoma residents suffer from serious and/or chronic illnesses. For instance, it probably wouldn't be difficult these days to find someone who knows someone with cancer, diabetes or some other life-altering medical condition, or to find someone who suffers from one.

Researchers are doing what they can to find ways to cure these diseases, or at least prolong the lives of those who have them. Before treatments can reach the public, they must go through clinical trials involving those who suffer from these conditions. If you could participate in a study for a medication or other treatment that could improve your health and prognosis, you would probably want to do it, but would your insurance pay for it?

Let's look at the facts about clinical trials

Before any new medication or treatment reaches the market, it needs to go through rigorous testing to make sure it's safe and effective. This is where clinical trials come in. One group receives the proposed treatment while another group receives either no treatment or some other treatment. Researchers then gather data over a period of time and analyze it.

These trials receive a significant amount of oversight and approval. By the time researchers begin using human test subjects, the treatment has already made it through other levels of testing with the appropriate amount of success and safety. Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration remain involved in the process in order to ensure it meets the appropriate standards.

How could you benefit from joining a clinical trial

Even though you may want to participate in a clinical trial, it still gives rise to a certain amount of fear and anxiety. It may help to analyze some of the benefits:

  • You gain access to a treatment or medication the government has not yet approved for widespread use.
  • Your prognosis could make an experimental treatment or drug our only option.
  • Clinical trials often require more medical oversight of the patients involved, so you could receive "better" medical care.
  • You could receive monetary compensation for your participation, along with reimbursement for your medical costs.
  • You may have the option of walking away if you don't like how the trial is going.

On the other hand, participation could come with certain disadvantages:

  • You may be in the group not actually receiving the treatment.
  • Researchers have yet to establish the safety of the medication or treatment.
  • It may not work.
  • You may experience good or bad symptoms due to the placebo effect.
  • You could spend more time attending medical appointments and under the monitor of researchers.

If the cons don't deter you from wanting to try an experimental treatment or medication, you could ask your doctor how to find clinical trials for your condition. Even if you find one, and researchers accept you, paying for it could present an issue. You may need assistance with your health care insurer in order to take advantage of an unknown and untested medication or treatment.

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