How Do Clinical Trials Usually Work?

Dr. Bailey does an excellent job of summarizing the steps that are followed to bring new drugs to market, which follow a very predictable route.

Pre-clinical trial on animals to determine toxic dose and safe dose for humans, and look at side affects that may affect humans.on average 31 months
Phase 1 Clinical trial on small group of humans (20-80). Healthy individuals, who are paid for their participation. several months
Phase 2 Clinical trial on target patients to identify side affects and efficacy or how well the drug works (100-300 people). Participants are carefully chosen.1-2 years
Phase 3 Clinical trial to measure effectiveness and monitor side affects (1000-3000 people). Some side affects take time to reveal themselves. Randomized, double-blind, placebo. 3-5 years
Phase 4 – regulatory approval to use the drug in the general population under varied conditions, drug interactions and discover untoward affects that might have been missed in earlier trials. Continue to monitor side affects. Many drugs have shown harmful effects only during phase 4 trials and have subsequently been banned from use.1.5 year
FDA approval

Informed Consent

Following the horrendous government practices during world war two, most countries signed the Nuremberg agreement to make participation an individual choice and after providing information about the risks of the procedure. Technically you can not be involved in a clinic trial without signing first an Informed Consent agreement.

Fast tracking

It can take 10-15 years to get a new drug to market and many will fail along the way.

FDA has a provision for Accelerated Approval before effectiveness is understood and allows for the drug to be used for new drugs for serious and life threatening illnesses that lack satisfactory treatments. In as early as 2.5 years. The drugs are continuously monitored for effectiveness and removed if they do not appear effective and confirm the initial results. This was used for HIV drugs for example.

Emergency Use Authorization – EUA

Special circumstances exist for approval and this was obtained by Pfizer for use in only 8 months.

It is very important to understand that Clinical Trials are still running while the product has already been purchased by government and is being given to the general public. The study that is currently running since April 2020 but is not actively recruiting patients. It is a phase one, two, and three study. It is just under 44,000 patients and is looking to find the correct dose and efficacy of the product in healthy people. It’s estimated to finish in January 2023 so we may not see any long-term safety data until that date.

Legal Liability

One of the reasons that clinical trials are so expensive is the pharmaceutical company is legally liable for injury and compensation during the trial and even continues after the drug goes to market.

There are exceptions to this rule and the govt has invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act on Feb 4, 2020. The 2005 law empowers the HHS secretary to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing medical supplies, such as vaccines and treatments, unless there is “wilful misconduct” by the pharmaceutical company. This protection lasts until 2024.


Next Post

Transmission of COVID-19 in 282 clusters in Catalonia, Spain: a cohort study - The Lancet Infectious Diseases

Sun Feb 7 , 2021
Source: Transmission of COVID-19 in 282 clusters in Catalonia, Spain: a cohort study – The Lancet Infectious Diseases