I have received a few comments from people wanting more information about the medical studies. Specifically they wonder if I am worried about the safety of the trials and how one finds a clinical trial to participate in. I´ve covered these topics in previous posts and comments but I´ll try to sum up the information here.
The safety of clinical trials is not something I worry about too much. There is some risk but I think many people vastly overestimate the risk. Many times the drugs I´m taking are already approved drugs but being administered in a different form. Even if they are not already approved drugs they have been extensively tested by the time they have a clinical trial. There are medical staff frequently monitoring you for any signs of side effects so if something were to go wrong they could promptly take care of it. I´ve done at least a dozen medical studies and for most of them I have felt no effects at all. The exceptions were one drug that gave me a headache and a sleeping pill which (not surprisingly) put me to sleep.
While people overestimate the risk of clinical trials I think they underestimate the risk of over-the-counter and prescription medicine. I don´t take any prescription medicine and rarely take any over-the-counter medicine. About half of Americans take at least one prescription drug and one in six take three drugs or more. I couldn’t find statistics on how frequently over-the-counter drugs are taken but since they account for the majority of the medications used in the United States it seems safe to assume they are used more frequently. This leads me to conclude that I take less medication than the average American and am probably not exposed to any more risk than average.
The recent deaths of celebrities such as Danny Gans and Michael Jackson show that just because a medication is prescribed doesn´t mean it is safe. Over-the-counter drugs are also pose dangers as shown by the new acetaminophen warnings that came out earlier this year. Heath Ledger is a famous example of the danger of abusing over-the-counter drugs. This is why I don´t normally take any medication unless I really need it.
If you are wondering how to find a study to participate in it is pretty simple. In my area and other areas I´ve lived there would be advertisements on TV and in the newspaper for upcoming clinical trials. If you don´t see any ads in your area check out ClinicalTrials.gov and GPGP.net to see if there are any clinical trials being conducted in your area.