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The People Behind Your Medicine

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

Select a group of people to see what role they play in helping bring medicines to the people who need them.

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Doctors and scientists

  • See health problems and come up with the solutions that eventually become medicines
  • Are 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

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Pharmaceutical companies

  • Are dedicated to discovering new medicines that can be used to help people around the world
  • Perform research
  • Conduct clinical trials
  • Hire researchers
  • 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

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The US Government

  • Oversees the process of making new medicines through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—from tests in labs to tests in humans and use in the real world
    • They eventually are the group that approves a medicine and determines who should use it, who should NOT use it, and how it should be used
    • They keep the health of the general public as their top priority and make sure the possible health benefits of a new medicine are worth the possible risks
  • Provides funding and leadership to discover new medicines through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Clinical trial staff

  • Helps run clinical trials
  • Works in clinics, hospitals, and facilities all around the country
  • Includes nurses, hospital or clinic staff, and administrative workers
  • Helps volunteers understand how the studies will work, what their responsibilities will be, and is there to answer any questions volunteers may have
  • Gives volunteers the study medicine (which can be the studied medicine, other approved medicines used to treat the condition, or a placebo) and records test results

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Ethics committees and 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 1 person who is not a part of the institution or study location and 1 person who is not a researcher

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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 health care professional to see if a clinical trial might be right for you
  • Patient advocacy groups sometimes support patients by telling them about clinical trials
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