Science is constantly pushing the boundaries to discover more effective and sustainable treatments for illnesses, with pharmaceutical companies and charitable foundations working together to invest significant sums in the development of promising treatments for disease. Over the past few decades, medicine has advanced enormously, encompassing the use of many new drugs and treatment protocols which are far more effective than their predecessors. Due to the large number of checks and tests which any new remedy has to undergo before it can be prescribed to patients, the process for developing and testing a potential new treatment is extremely protracted.
Why Volunteers Are Needed
Having demonstrated theoretically that a compound is likely to beneficially affect the pathology of a particular condition, scientists undertake lengthy stem cell testing in laboratory conditions to establish how well the proposed substance works in reality. The final stage of the development process involves testing the new treatment on volunteers, who selflessly give their time to further medical science. The role of the volunteers cannot be underestimated, with their contribution being of vital importance in ensuring that new drugs fulfil the role for which they are intended and produce the appropriate physiological response.
To volunteer for this important work, men and women must be over eighteen and generally under fifty five, although some trials require an older test group. All prospective volunteers must be in good health and are given a thorough medical screening prior to being accepted on a trial to ensure they are in peak condition and have no underlying health problems. Volunteers are paid for their time, and can recieve between £500 and £3000 for taking part in a single trial. They are also paid travel expenses of up to £100. For most volunteers, the satisfaction of knowing they are part of an extensive effort by many different individuals to make a positive difference to the lives of others is the primary reason for volunteering.
Trials vary in duration from a day to a month, depending on the focus of the study. All volunteers can only take part in one trial at a time, and need to wait three months between undertaking trials. The safety of volunteers is the primary concern of all clinical trials, and volunteers are notified of any known potential side effects before taking part. Fully trained medical professionals are always on hand as a precaution. Without medical volunteers, many medicines which currently improve life for thousands of people would still not be widely available. Becoming a medical volunteer costs nothing, but has the capability of improving the health of many people for the better.
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This article was written by Nick Davison, of Covance Drug Trials Leeds.