When a loved one suffers from a debilitating, incurable disease, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, some families or individuals might be willing to consider any alternative, including non traditional treatments, or clinical trials.
Clinical trials are biological or behavioral experiments conducted on people designed to determine efficacy and safety of new medications and treatments. These are conducted only after approval from an ethics committee and/or health authority from the country in which they are to take place. In the United States the approval comes from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is then responsible for determining the benefits and risks of the drug or treatment in question.
Volunteers are enrolled in Pilot Programs, typically small groups where they receive either the drug being tested or a placebo. After this initial step, larger studies with additional volunteers are typically conducted.
Depending on the drug, clinical trials could be expensive. Volunteers sometimes receive monetary compensation in addition to the drug and/or treatment. The trials can be sponsored by biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, and sometimes even by the government.
These types of research can last for years and may require multiple trials. Only about 10% of drugs tested are eventually approved for use.
If you are considering participating in a clinical trial, or enrolling your loved one in one, talk to your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of any particular study. Consider how they might be affected if the trial requires them to stop medications and treatments they are currently receiving. Once you and your doctor decide to go ahead, you can find information on clinical trials conducted around the world by visiting: www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
The Alzheimer's Association has information on clinical trials specific to this disease. Their website is: www.alz.org.
For clinical trials related to Parkinson's disease, you can find information at www.michalejfox.org.
I hope you find this information helpful. With any luck, we will all see the day when Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and so many other dreaded diseases are finally defeated!
Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. is an actress, author, and advocate for people suffering from Alzheimer's; she lives in the Valley with her husband, their 6 dogs, 4 and 2/4 cats, 3 birds, and an invisible turtle. Author's website Email the author