It is hard to imagine what life would be like without the current armoury of modern medicines which doctors have at their disposal. Amazing pharmaceutical developments in the past hundred years or so have resulted in the successful management of many conditions which previously would have had serious implications for the well-being of their sufferers. Many people take it for granted that the medication they take every day will have been rigorously tested to ensure both its effectiveness and its safety, but this attitude is only justified because there are a number of selfless people who act as medical volunteers to test new drugs prior to their authorisation for prescription.
Why Are Volunteers Essential?
Medical trials using volunteers are the last step of the lengthy process of drug development, which has already seen the drug rigorously investigated in laboratory trials and subject to continuous review and refinement. Without the vital input of medical volunteers, new treatments cannot be approved and used to benefit patients. Volunteering for a medical trial is a crucial part of helping sufferers from various conditions potentially enjoy a better quality of life.
Who Can Volunteer?
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 55 can apply to be a volunteer, although different trials may require specific gender or demographic profiles. Every volunteer is given a through health screening prior to being accepted, to ensure they don’t have any underlying pathologies. A trial may last anywhere from a day to a month, with volunteers paid expenses of anything from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. In the same way as some people suffer side effects during the use of prescribed medication, some volunteers may suffer minor side effects as a result of the trial. These effects are usually quite minimal and there is always full medical monitoring and back up available during a trial.
Trial Availability And Integrity
New trials are always being scheduled, so a willing volunteer can potentially take part in one three months after the last one, provided they are a suitable candidate. All volunteers can only take part in one trial at a time, to ensure the action of the drug being tested isn’t compromised by another pharmaceutical product. Many volunteers see clinical trial participation as a way of helping others, perhaps “giving something back” following successful treatment of a condition or in memory of a loved one who might have benefited from a new drug regime had it been available.
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This guest post was written by Nick Davison, of Covance Paid Clinical Trials in Leeds.