Why take part in clinical trials?

06 April 2021

There are plenty of benefits to taking part in clinical trials, writes the team at New Zealanders for Health Research. 

If you have an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a new medicine, piece of equipment or just a different way of providing care then you should seriously consider getting involved, for these reasons: 

• You’ll receive the best possible standards of care. If you’re participating in a phase three clinical trial for a new medicine, for example, the aim of the research will be to compare the new medicine with either doing nothing or with existing medicines. This sometimes involves being given a placebo or an inert substance rather than the new medicine itself, to ensure that any observed health improvements are from the new medicine itself rather than something else. The researchers will also want to ensure that any health improvements they see are not related to different standards of care, which means that if you go on a clinical trial you’ll get the best possible nursing and medical care, even if you’re given a placebo, which in itself can result in better health outcomes.

Courtesy of Medicines NZ

• If the trial is successful you’ll get early access to new medicines and therapies which won’t necessarily be available to others with the same condition as you. Typically, if you’re benefiting from a new intervention the organisation paying for the trial will continue to pay for it even after the trial has ended. This is a big advantage in New Zealand if there are delays (which there usually are) in getting the new medicine approved and funded by Pharmac (New Zealand’s medicines and devices purchasing agency). This is sometimes extended to those who’ve received a placebo only under companies’ compassionate access schemes. 

• You’ll improve your knowledge of your condition, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ll be helping others, including future generations. 

• You’ll have access to up-to-date best practice clinicians who, it is thought, practice medicine five years in advance of their non-research colleagues. 

• Because you’ll receive treatment as part of a clinical trial rather than through the normal public health system, you’ll be freeing up clinical capacity giving earlier access to treatment to other members of your community.

For more information take a look at the New Zealanders for Health Research (NZHR) clinical trials discussion paper here and Dr Ed Watson’s presentation to NZHR’s March 2019 Clinical Trials Workshop here.

* This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 edition of In Touch magazine. 

For more information please contact: 
Melanie Louden 
Communications and Marketing Advisor 
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand 
027 509 8774 
[email protected]