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Clinical Trials=Free Medicine?

Medicare Part D

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Clinical trials=free medicine? Think again

Clinical trials are often portrayed as a way to get free medicine to treat your illness. The medicine is not really free. It is more like something used in a barter. The group conducting the survey will give you medicine in return for letting them test out the medicine on you.

Ever wonder about the tv commercials that advertise medication, but at the end of the commercial say "in clinical studies, this medicine caused dry mouth, blood in urine, difficulty sleeping"? Most of the reactions were discovered when the 'free' medicine was given to clinical study participants.

If you are considering whether or not to participate in a clinical trial, ask the following questions:

  • What is a clinical trial?
  • What will happen to me if I have a bad reaction to the medication?
  • What is the compensation?
  • Why participate in a clinical trial?
  • Where do the ideas for trials come from?
  • Who sponsors clinical trials?
  • What is a protocol?
  • What is a placebo?
  • What is a control or control group?
  • What are the different types of clinical trials?
  • What are the phases of clinical trials?
  • What is an "expanded access" protocol?

It is also helpful to talk to a physician, family members, or friends about deciding to join a trial. After identifying some trial options, the next step is to contact the study research staff and ask questions about specific trials.

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