Being a Clinical Lab Rat
anonymous Asks ...
My doctor asked me if I wanted to be in a clinical trial on varenecline. He knows I have a problem with drinking and cocaine. I can get treatment for free. It sort of sounds too good to be true. Is there any danger that I am not thinking of or any reason why I shouldn’t be a guinea pig for science?
Rob Danzman Says ...
While the pros of participating in a clinical trial are obvious (eg. free treatment, payment/stipend), the downsides require some careful consideration. Let's think about why clinical trials take place. First of all, researchers are trying to identify side effects as well as effectiveness. Depending on the medication/treatment, these can range from mild headaches, stomach issues, etc. On the severe end could be brain trauma, heart issues and, inconveniently, death. If you have some of these side effects, you may have a difficult time proving that the medication was what caused the issue. In well-designed studies, you will not know if you are receiving the treatment or a placebo.
Next step? Ask alot of questions about what happens during and after treatment if you have negative side effects. You normally can leave a study at any point if you feel uncomfortable or it requires more time than you anticipated it would. What happens when the study is complete and the medication worked well for you? How can you continue with it if it's not a prescribed med? Can you participate in individual and group counselor at the same time? Best thing to do is educate yourself before making a decision.