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    A Guide to Clinical Trials for Arthritis Patients

    What Are the Different Phases of a Clinical Trial?

    In a phase I clinical trial, the new arthritis treatment being investigated is given to a small number of participants. The researchers determine the best way to give the new treatment and how much of it can be given safely.

    Phase II clinical trials determine the effect of the research treatment on patients and usually the best dosage.

    In phase III clinical trials, the drug or treatment is given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used

    Phase IV clinical trials apply the new treatment to patient care. Studies are done after the drug or treatment has been marketed to gather information on the drug's effect in various populations and any side effects associated with long-term use.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Clinical Trials

    The advantages of participating in a clinical trial include the following:

    • 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 arthritis 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.

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