What is a clinical trial?

Oftentimes patients will hear of exciting new treatments for conditions, not realizing that those treatments are in the clinical-trial phase and not yet approved for use in the general population.

A clinical trial is a study to see if a new medication, device, or other treatment is safe and effective. Clinical trials are funded by a physician, government health agency, pharmaceutical company or other interested group. In the United States, guidelines for the proper conduct of clinical trials are created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the FDA seeks to regulate clinical trials as much as is possible, many clinical trials contain some amount of risk for participants, as treatments are still in the investigational, or experimental, stage. Clinical trials are required to be monitored by an Institutional Review Board, which is a committee designed to assure the safe and ethical conduct of the study.

Clinical trial participants are people who satisfy pre-established criteria, such as being within a certain age range or having a particular disease. These participants do a public service by helping medical science develop new treatments. They may be interested in seeking help for their own condition or in helping the larger population. Some trial participants are compensated for their participation.

If a clinical trial establishes the safety and efficacy of a new treatment, that information is submitted to the FDA as part of the approval process for potentially bringing the drug to market.

Clinical trials are treatments that use experimental drugs or methods. Clinical trials might be an option if your esophageal cancer has gotten worse, even though you have tried other treatment options. They are usually based on the latest treatment research but are currently unproven or unstudied in improving cancer survival. In addition to possibly helping you with your cancer, clinical trials also provide important research into cancer and cancer treatment.




Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

A clinical trial is a carefully designed research study in which people participate as volunteers to test new methods of screening, preventing, diagnosing, or treating breast cancer. Clinical trials are also referred to as clinical studies, medical research, and research protocols. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the safest and most effective way to find new methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating breast cancer.

This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Medical Research

Early Stem Cell Study Offers Hope for Children With Autism
Early Stem Cell Study Offers Hope for Children With Autism
Autism, a developmental disorder that affects about one out of 68 U.S. children, typically involves communication and learning difficulties. It’s a sp...
Read More
How is the search for new medicines improving?
Over the past 10 years, a wave of scientific advances and new technologies has dramatically changed ...
More Answers
Who can participate in clinical research?
Piedmont Heart InstitutePiedmont Heart Institute
Each clinical research study has different requirements that determine whether a person can particip...
More Answers
Is There a Way to Improve Vision with Special Exercises?
Is There a Way to Improve Vision with Special Exercises?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.