Clinical trials are there to make sure that a new treatment:
- is safe and effective
- really does work better than a placebo (dummy) treatment
- doesn’t have any dangerous side-effects.
Clinical trials have different phases: initially, the drug is tested in small numbers of people to make sure that it’s safe, before it’s tested in hundreds and sometimes thousands of patients.
This testing in large numbers is absolutely vital: reports of a good result in one or two patients do not necessarily mean that a therapy will be safe and effective for everyone.
How to take part in a clinical trial
For up-to-date information on clinical trials in the UK – and why they are so important – please visit the UK Clinical Trials Gateway.
If you're interested in taking part in an international clinical trial taking place outside the UK, please use the World Health Organisation's International Clinical Trials Registry Platform on the NHS Choices website.