Are clinical trials safe?

Clinical trials are an important way to make better medicine and create better treatments, but are they safe and should children get to choose to go on them?

It’s very likely that you have had some medicine at some point in your life. It’s also quite possible that you’ve had treatment in a hospital or surgery for an illness or injury.

Clinical trials are like tests to make better medicines and create better treatments and all people – adults and children – can help by being tested on.

It might be a bit of a weird thought to be tested on, but the clinical trials are often – well, pretty boring. It could involve answering some questions in general about how you’re feeling. Other tests might involve things like blood tests or scans – or even trying new medicines out.

The whole purpose of clinical trials is to make treatments better. Knowledge they gain could help improve the health care of adults and children.

However, since these are tests there are naturally going to be risks. Who can say for sure what would happen? If you’re thinking of taking part in a trial make sure you ask about the risks!

When it comes to children in clinical trials there’s also a whole separate debate about who gets to decide. The medicines and treatments that children get are often very different to those that adults receive so of course they need to test medicines and treatments on children.

But what if the parent wants the kid to be part of the clinical trial but the kid isn’t keen? Or what if the kid wants to take part in the research but the parents say no?

There’s a lot to thing about and it shows that if we don’t think carefully about things then there’s a chance we can get things turning out in a way we don’t want.

It takes a bit of thought to really work out how we can best use the science and technology at our disposal to make sure it’s fair and in the best interests of everyone.

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Nuffield CouncilBene and Mal’s Bioethics series with support from Nuffield Council on Bioethics
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