Thursday, January 7, 2010


Photo credit: pixelens photogaphy

Given the multiple phases of clinical trials, there are thousands of patients needed to carry a drug from Phase I trials to FDA approval. Current estimations show that roughly 2% of our population actually participates in these clinical research trials annually. So, recruitment can be a huge obstacle to getting trials completed, and can stall a trial for years.

The recruitment process has three players. The clinical researcher conducting the trial recruits the health care professionals and the health care professionals recruit the patients. But there are barriers in each phase. Participating in these trials requires time and personnel that health care professionals may not have. For those health care professionals willing to participate, they might have a difficult time finding patients who are eligible, or convincing those who are eligible to enroll.

Previous Research!America polling has shown that public participation in clinical research trials is certainly lacking. Only 15% of people polled have ever participated in a trial. The good news is that the majority of those polled are willing to participate. One obstacle to their participation is that doctors are not talking to their patients about the trials.

So, take home message, if you're at all interested in participating, ask you doctor and/or do your own research (see resources below). Also, if you have a certain condition, like diabetes or heart disease, be sure to visit the websites of patient advocacy groups for those conditions (for example, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association). And most importantly, you don't have to be sick to participate. There are plenty of clinical trials that need healthy individuals to enroll.

Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research
Society for Women’s Health Research
NIH Office on Women’s Health
NIH Office of Minority Health and Research
FDA Information Sheet

This is Part 8 of 13 in our From Ideas to Treatments series.
Part 1 - From Ideas to Treatments
Part 2 - Basic Research: It Starts with an Idea
Part 3 - You're an Animal!
Part 4 - Can I care about animals and do research too?
Part 5 - Regulations for Animal Research
Part 6 - Clinical Research Trials
Part 7 - Patient Safety in Clinical Trials: IRB Approval
Part 8 - Recruitment
Part 9 - Health Disparities in Clinical Research
Part 10 - A Brief History of Inclusion Policies
Part 11 - Breaking News: Women and Men are Different
Part 12 - Including Minorities in Clinical Trial Research
Part 13 - Bringing From Ideas to Treatments Home

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