Every drug that people have ever taken is available because of the gift that other individuals have given by participating in clinical research. Clinical research trial participation is an essential component of the drug development process. Clinical studies help researchers and doctors learn what works and what does not work in treating diseases. People around the world live longer, healthier and happier lives because individuals they have never met once volunteered as clinical study participants.

Generally speaking, clinical trials are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and are conducted by research teams that include doctors and other medical professionals. Clinical trials are governed by strict protocols and are overseen by many regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of participants. Although every effort is made to ensure that clinical trials are as safe as possible, clinical trials that test new therapies are experiments and can involve risks. Some risks are undesirable side effects or simply that the treatment may not be effective for the participant.

The time it takes to develop a potential treatment can be as long as 15 years. One of the reasons for the delay is the difficulty in finding people to participate in clinical studies. Currently only 1% of people with Parkinson’s participate in clinical studies. In fact, 90% of all the clinical studies conducted in the US must extend their original timelines in order to enroll the number of participants needed to complete the study. Only a small percentage of drugs make it through the pipeline to the patient.

People with Parkinson’s must do their part to move Parkinson’s research forward. In addition to contributing to medical science, participation in a trial can be a rewarding experience. Some of the benefits are access to cutting-edge new treatments, access to leading healthcare professionals, and better understanding of your disease.

Obtain a list of clinical trials in your area and learn about the many options available to patients who are considering making the commitment to participate in this way. Some trials are seeking non-PD subjects, so this can be a way for friends to also contribute to a cure.

Additional resources

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

American Parkinson Disease Association

National Parkinson Foundation

Parkinson’s Action Network

Michael J. Fox Foundation

Find a Clinical Trial

PDTrials. You can play a part in moving Parkinson’s research forward.

Find up-to-date information on Parkinson’s disease trials currently enrolling participants in the U.S. and Canada.