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    Clinical Trials Guide for Arthritis Patients

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Clinical Trials

    The advantages of participating in a clinical trial include:

    • You may receive a new arthritis treatment before it is widely available to the public.
    • You can provide researchers with the information they need to continue developing new procedures and introducing new treatment methods.
    • Your arthritis treatment costs may be decreased, since many of the tests and doctor visits that are directly related to the clinical trial are paid for by the company or agency sponsoring the study. Be sure to discuss your treatment costs with the doctors and nurses conducting the clinical trial.

    Potential side effects from participating in a clinical trial will depend on the type of treatment and the patient's condition.

    All of the risks and side effects of the treatment being researched are not known at the beginning of the clinical trial. Since this is the case, there may be unknown side effects, as well as hoped-for benefits. It's important to note that most treatments -- as well as the disease or condition itself -- have potential side effects.

    Patients will be informed of any known, possible side effects as well as any "new" side effects that occur or become known while they are participating in the trial.

    Clinical Trial Treatment for Arthritis

    There are some differences in receiving arthritis treatment in a clinical trial vs. receiving regular treatment. You may receive more exams and tests than are usually given for your particular condition. The purpose of these tests is to follow your progress and collect study data. Of course, tests can carry certain benefits and risks or discomforts of their own. Although they can be inconvenient, these tests can assure an extra ounce of observation along the way.

    Depending on the type of clinical trial you are participating in, you may be asked to stop or change drugs you are currently taking. You may also be asked to change your diet or any activities that may affect the outcome of the trial.

    Some clinical trials are double-blind, placebo-controlled. This means that the clinical trial participants may receive the real drug or an inactive substance that looks exactly like the drug (called a placebo). Neither the participant nor the physician will know which drug the patient is receiving. This is done to make certain that the real drug is effective.

    Clinical trial participants are willing volunteers. Even though patients may be asked by their doctors to take part in a clinical trial, it is up to each patient to make the final decision.

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