9 Clinical Trial Myths

9 Clinical Trial Myths

Clinical trials are an essential part of putting new medications on the market. However, there are many common myths surrounding them. This article will explain the common myths surrounding clinical trials, including why some of these myths come to be.

Clinical Trials Myth #1: Clinical trials are dangerous because they use new practices and medicines.

The purpose of clinical trials is to evaluate the efficacy of a newly developed drug, device or other medical intervention, so there will always be some degree of associated risk. However, the interventions tested during a clinical trial have already been through a rigorous testing process and typically have a body of scientific evidence backing up the likelihood that these drugs will be safe for human use and that the benefits of the intervention outweigh the risks.

Also, the primary goal of the clinical trial is patient safety, and as such, the clinical trial team carefully monitors all volunteers to ensure that they are always safe. In fact, many people feel as though they receive better treatment when in a clinical trial compared to general treatment. According to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), 47% of clinical trial participants felt that they received better care during their clinical trial. (1)

Clinical Trials Myth #2: A clinical trial is full of extra costs that my insurance won't cover.

Most clinical trial participants do not have to pay for any of the care they receive during the trial. Clinical trials have two types of costs associated with them, research costs and patient care costs. The organization performing the clinical trial most often covers the research costs, which can include anything related to conducting the trial such as research physician and nurse time, data collection, and result analysis.

The other cost category is patient care costs, which many health insurance carriers cover. These costs include doctor visits, hospital stays, clinical laboratory tests, and x-rays.

For anyone who is unsure about what is covered for one specific trial, reach out to the clinical trial research team and your health insurance carrier for more information.

Clinical Trials Myth #3: Many people are told that they are not eligible for the clinical trial.

All clinical trials have protocols, which are plans that explain what will be done during the trial, how the trial will be carried out, and the importance of each step of the trial. Each clinical trial's protocol also lists the eligibility criteria for who can and cannot participate.

The purpose of the eligibility requirements is not to purposefully exclude anyone, but to find the people most likely to benefit from the clinical trial. Some things which may be a part of the eligibility criteria include gender, age, having a specific type of medical condition, past medications, medical history, and current health status.

Clinical Trials Myth #4: I might get a placebo instead of the experimental medicine.

A placebo, also called a "sugar pill", is a product that looks like the experimental drug but has no effect, positive or negative, on the body. Placebos are often used to determine if the experimental drug truly works or if the clinical trial volunteer's mindset plays a role in any results.

While some clinical trials may use a placebo, not all trials do. Specifically, clinical trials take into consideration the seriousness of the illness and if there are other treatment possibilities. For example, trials for cancer treatments very rarely use placebos because of the ethical concerns that surround withholding beneficial treatment to someone who truly needs it.

Clinical Trials Myth #5: Everyone in a clinical trial is treated like a guinea pig.

One common misconception about clinical trials is that the trial volunteers will be treated like guinea pigs since they are receiving experimental treatment. However, those who have previously been clinical research participants claim that this was not the case, and according to the CISCRP, 96% of past clinical research participants would be willing to participate in another clinical trial. (1)

Clinical Trials Myth #6: Clinical trials may include painful or unpleasant parts.

Just as with any medication or other intervention, there are always possible side effects. However, anyone in a clinical trial will be informed of these potential side effects before the trial begins so that they can consider them when deciding whether or not to volunteer for the clinical trial. Also, the trial is reviewed ahead of time to ensure that both the benefits and risks are considered and that there is no unnecessary harm or discomfort.

Clinical Trials Myth #7: You cannot change your mind once you sign up.

Clinical trials run on an entirely voluntary basis. This means that if you decide you no longer want to be a part of the trial, you can discontinue it at any time you want, even if you have already received the experimental drug. However, anyone leaving a clinical trial should let the clinical trial team know.

Clinical Trials Myth #8: I am too old to participate in a clinical trial.

It is important for there to be a wide range of clinical trial patients to ensure that the medication works and is safe on people of all ages and backgrounds. While the percentage of the total population that is aged 65 and older is only 13%, this age group uses nearly one third of all medications (2). Because of this, it is important for older individuals to be a part of clinical trials since, with some medicines, they are the ones most likely to use it.

Clinical Trials Myth #9: My doctor will tell me if there is a clinical trial I should join.

There are many clinical trials going on at any given moment, so your doctor might not know about every possible clinical trial that could be beneficial. If you want to search for clinical trials that you might be a good match for, go to www.ClinicalConnection.com to find nearby clinical trials that are actively recruiting participants. Any trial that seems promising can then be brought to your doctor's attention to determine if it truly is a good fit for you.

Final Remarks

There are many myths surrounding clinical trials. Feeling like a guinea pig, paying for procedures out-of-pocket because insurance won't cover it, and receiving high-risk treatments are just some examples of common misconceptions people may have about clinical trials. However, as outlined above, many of these myths are not based on actual facts and patient experiences. Patient health and safety is the top priority for physicians and for our entire healthcare system – that's also true in clinical trials.

If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, visit www.ClinicalConnection.com to search clinical trials and find one that will be most beneficial to you.


[1] https://www.ciscrp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/How-participation-experience-compared-to-standard-of-care.png

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4640010/