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10 Totally Incorrect Things You Probably Believe About Clinical Trials

What do you really know about these studies?

1. Myth: You have to quit the other medications you're already taking while you're participating in a clinical trial.

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This may be true, depending on the clinical trial. Every trial has individual criteria for its participants, and medication history is definitely a factor that researchers consider when determining eligibility.

2. Myth: Clinical trials are expensive.

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This is false. Travel to and from the appointment may not be covered, but the trials usually are. Typically clinical trials don't cost anything for the patient because they are federally or privately funded. Most health insurance plans also cover routine patient visits that are associated with the clinical trial. Additional research costs for things like blood tests and scans are often covered by the trial sponsor.

3. Myth: Once you start a clinical trial, you have to finish it.

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This is false! Participants can drop out of clinical trials if they choose to. Follow-up visits are necessary to ensure the health of the patients, but not finishing a clinical trial is absolutely allowed.

4. Myth: You can be part of a clinical trial only if you live near a major hospital.

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This, too, is false. There are clinical trials held out of smaller medical offices, although it's not as common. To help participants who live farther away, some trials assist in arranging transportation and even accommodations in hotels.

5. Myth: If you're part of the placebo group, you will not receive the same level of care as the treatment group.

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This is false. Whether participants are on a placebo or the treatment, they will be receiving the same level of attention from the trial staff. Research coordinators and trial staff often don't even know which patients are receiving a placebo in order to ensure unbiased results. Regardless of which group the participant belongs to, research staff can recommend dropping out of the trial if the patient's conditions worsen or fail to improve.

6. Myth: You don't have to go to regular doctor visits if you're participating in a clinical trial.

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This is also false! Clinical trials can't replace appointments with your regular doctor. You'll still need standard prescriptions, surveillance tests, and other procedures as you're going through the clinical trial. You'll also need to keep your regular doctor informed about your participation in the study.

7. Myth: Clinical trials last for months and months.

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This is sometimes true. Some trials are only one to three months in duration. Others can be six to twelve months or longer.

8. Myth: You can't participate in a clinical trial if you're in remission at the time.

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This depends on the study. Although many clinical trials are for patients with moderate to severe disease, not all studies are.

9. Myth: There is no information available to clinical trial participants on the earlier results of the study.

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This is false. Information from earlier completed clinical trials should be accessible for patients of the current trial to review.

10. Myth: Participants cannot continue to use the study's drug or therapy after the trial ends.

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This is sometimes true, depending on the sponsor of the study. Some allow participants to continue the treatment in an open label extension study, while others may have to wait for approval from the FDA.

Clinical trials are an essential part of the drug development process. Without patients enrolling in clinical trials, new medications won't become approved for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Participating in clinical trials can provide relief for those living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Find out more about clinical trials here.

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All facts and information courtesy of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.