A Thought for Veteran’s Day: Participation in Clinical Trials Is Another Way to Serve

clinical trialsA couple of weeks ago I was asked to sit on a panel to discuss participation in clinical research, and one of the questions posed to us was: “Why do you participate in clinical trials?” Fortunately, the panelists were provided the questions weeks in advance, so I had the opportunity to give the question some thought before responding. While there’s always the chance that a trial will result in the development of a new drug or other therapy—maybe even a small possibility it will be a link in the chain that leads to a cure during my lifetime—I realized I don’t expect to obtain much personal value from my participation. I participate because researchers depend upon those of us with chronic diseases to find a cure for future generations, and I’m willing to bear some risk and inconvenience to serve the greater good.

Every generation has requested far more from our young people to defend our nation, and chronic disease is a more ruthless and persistent enemy than any foreign invader we have ever faced. While I believe the potential value of any trial should be weighed against the risks, and researchers must provide complete information to potential subjects, I think we have some moral obligation to shoulder a reasonable amount of risk and inconvenience if the potential payoff is substantial.

There are an estimated one million people with PD in the United States, but only about 3% of them have signed up for FoxTrialFinder, a free service provided by the Michael J Fox Foundation to help connect Parkinson’s patients with clinical trials. Many expensive clinical trials for new treatments and therapies are started–sometimes making it through Stage 1 or Stage 2–but are never finished because willing participants cannot be found. One reason for this shortfall may be that many newly-diagnosed PD patients don’t learn about clinical trials right away, but surely part of this dismal participation rate is because patients are concerned about risks of side effects and, let’s face it, traveling to the research site can be a pain in the backside, especially when you’re suffering with the symptoms of a chronic, debilitating disease.

But traveling to Normandy or Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan was far riskier and inconvenient and too often lethal to hundreds of thousands of each generation’s young people. On Veteran’s Day, we make it a point to thank each and every person who has served our country with their military service, for putting their lives at risk or on hold to serve the greater good.

To learn more about clinical trials, check out  Dr. Soania Mathur’s article, “Everything You Need To Know About Parkinson’s Clinical Trials: A complete guide…” For information about clinical trials recruiting subjects visit: http://www.pdpipeline.org, http://www.clinicaltrials.gov, http://www.centerwatch.com or www.foxtrialfinder.org.

Thank you for your service.


2 responses on A Thought for Veteran’s Day: Participation in Clinical Trials Is Another Way to Serve

  1. I’ve been off the network for a couple of months, and am deleting emails, some sent to files I may never get back to.

    Glad I read this one first. Great comparison, Larry. If we had a dedicated army of people like you, Parkinson’s, MS, and other diseases would be as rare as polio.

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