Most of us, I’d wager, know someone who’s been in a clinical trial, or wanted to be. Clinical trials are what you do when your disease, often cancer, breaks through the accepted treatment protocols and resumes destroying your body. Maybe a drug under development, not yet approved for general use, will work.
I know two people currently who are using drugs in clinical trials. One is the 40-something son of a dear friend, a young man who has lung cancer. Right now, the clinical trial drug seems to be having positive effect; his cancer looks to be in remission. Another is a friend here in Seattle who’s had a recurrence of what started as bile duct cancer. He’s on the last option the medical community has to offer, and it’s not yet clear if the drug provided through a clinical trial will have enough positive effect to give him more months of life.
Getting into a clinical trial is often hard; you have to fit the protocol. Part of that is the drug company wanting to control the variables, so they know that whatever changes occur in your health status is in fact due to their drug, not something else. Part is the drug company wanting to have healthy enough patients to withstand the rigors of treatment. “We think the drug worked but unfortunately the patient died” is not a successful marketing slogan.
Should drug companies be forced to relax their stringent protocols, to give more desperate patients a chance? Or, does the science require a process pretty much like the one we have now?
I imagine your answer has a whole lot to do with whether you or a loved one is desperate to get into a trial.