There was an interesting article recently in the Columbus Republic out of Indiana. The article tells the story of clinical trials and of patients in clinical trials. It's a useful overview of the process.
It calls to mind that we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to participating patients (and their families). We are all beneficiaries of their contribution to the drug development process.
It also should remind us that clinical trials are just one piece of the drug development process. There's so much that goes into R&D well before you even get to clinical trials. From the 5,000 to 10,000 compounds looked at as being potentially useful as a new medicine, only one ever makes it all the way to FDA approval for patient use.
Another consideration when thinking about the drug testing and approval process is that clinical trials have become more complex. During the last 10 years, clinical trial designs and procedures have become increasingly complicated, demanding more staff time and effort with the unintended effect of discouraging patient enrollment and retention.
Anyway, the more patients, doctors, policymakers and the media know and understand about how medicines are researched and developed, the better, hopefully, they'll appreciate some of the challenges that America's biopharmaceutical research companies confront in trying to solve some of our toughest health care questions.