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Medicine > Understanding Your Prescriptions

The People Behind Your Medicine

Did you know that many different types of people may have studied, tested, and even taken the same medicine (as you) for years before it gets to you? Each person, including those who volunteer, plays an important role in determining if the medicines you and your family take are safe and will work when appropriately prescribed.

Choose a group of people to see what role it plays in helping bring medicines to the people who need them.
RESEARCHERS & SCIENTISTS
RESEARCHERS & SCIENTISTS
  • See health problems and come up with the solutions that eventually become medicines
  • Include experts in the disease or condition
  • Work at pharmaceutical companies, universities, hospitals, and clinics around the world
  • Help run the clinical trials where their ideas are tested and they eventually publish their results for the world to see
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES
  • Are dedicated to discovering new medicines that can be used to help people around the world
  • Perform research
  • Conduct clinical trials
  • Invest the money and resources needed to investigate new treatments
  • Work with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find ways to make and deliver new medicines that address health needs
THE US GOVERNMENT
THE US GOVERNMENT
  • Oversees the process of developing and producing medicines through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—from tests in labs to tests in humans and use in the real world
  • Approves a new medicine and determines who should use it, who should NOT use it, and how it should be used
  • Makes sure the possible health benefits of a new medicine are worth the possible risks, while keeping the health of the general public top priority
  • Provides funding and leadership to discover new medicines through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
CLINICAL TRIAL STAFF
CLINICAL TRIAL STAFF
  • Help run clinical trials
  • Work in clinics, hospitals, and facilities all around the country
  • Include nurses, hospital or clinic staff, and administrative workers
  • Help volunteers understand how the studies will work, what their responsibilities will be, and answer any questions volunteers may have
  • Give volunteers the study medicine (which can be the medicine being tested, other approved medicines used to treat the condition, or a placebo), and record test results
ETHICS COMMITTEES & REVIEW BOARDS
ETHICS COMMITTEES & REVIEW BOARDS
  • Review the scientific, medical, and ethical aspects of the trial before and during the study
  • Make sure that volunteers are not being placed in situations with unnecessary risks
  • Inform volunteers of the potential risks of a clinical trial before it begins
  • Are made up of members of varying backgrounds and must include at least one person who is not a part of the institution or study location and one person who is not a researcher
VOLUNTEERS
VOLUNTEERS
  • Range in age, ethnicity, health, and background—having a lot of different types of people in a clinical trial is important to help researchers learn who could use the studied medicine
  • Have many reasons for participating, including looking to take an active role in their health care or doing it to help others
    • If you are interested, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov to see what trials you can join
    • Talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial might be right for you
  • Patient advocacy groups sometimes support patients by telling them about clinical trials