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About Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are scientific studies done to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat disease. Clinical trials may also show which investigational treatments work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce measurable information that is later used to help health care providers make decisions about how to best treat patients.

The purpose of a clinical trial is to answer scientific questions. Therefore, clinical trials follow strict scientific standards to protect patients and help produce reliable study results.

In clinical trials, participants receive treatment according to a specific study design that is created by a team of doctors. Sometimes this includes comparing an already available medication to a new treatment OR a standard treatment that is already available.

Other studies simply track patients who are already taking an approved treatment. This is done to follow them as they use the treatment to measure long-term benefits and safety.

During a clinical trial, the study doctors (also known as investigators) try to measure how safe and effective the treatment is by measuring individual health progress over a number of weeks, months, or years.

When a new investigational treatment is being studied, initial studies are done to prove it has the potential to be an effective treatment and has acceptable safety. Then, larger studies are done when it is not usually known how well it will compare to what is already available. For example, a new drug or treatment may be studied in patients who have high blood pressure to see whether their blood pressure decreases.