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Clinical Trials 101

How To Locate A Clinical Trial

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There is no single place that lists every clinical trial. However, between your doctors, the internet and other resources available to you, the odds are that you can learn about clinical trials that may be right for you. 

Two tips before you start your search:

  • It is advisable to create a list of the details of your diagnosis and treatments to date before looking for trials for which you qualify. It will help you save time. To learn how, click here.
  • Start your search with studies listed as Phase III, late-stage, large tests on the drug's safety and efficacy. If you do not find what you're looking for, search for other Phase III trials, then Phase II, then Phase I.  (For information about clinical trial phases, click here.)

Following is a list of sources that can help you find an appropriate clinical trial:

  • Your Doctor(s) (a good first step)
    • Your doctors' participation, opinion, and advice, can be invaluable with the selection of an appropriate trial.
    • Your doctors are also a good starting point for finding a trial that fits your diagnosis and specific needs.
    • You may still need to do your own research. There are far too many trials for most doctors to be familiar with all of them. At the very least, a doctor should be able to provide information about trials conducted by colleagues and/or the hospital with which she is affiliated.
  • The Internet (the standard second step)
    • Following is a list of some well respected sites to consider. For specific health conditions, see below:.
      • National Institutes of Health (NIH) has two services:
        • offsite link for patients who wish to participate in clinical trials in designated National Cancer Institute cancer centers. 
        • offsite link. (Tel.: 800.411.1222)   This service is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Library of Medicine.  The service has a current listing of more than 4,000 studies, allowing access to information about virtually all government clinical trials sponsored by the various divisions of the NIH.  In addition, the site provides listings and information on trials sponsored by other federal agencies, the medical industry (including pharmaceutical companies), university and healthcare organizations.  You can search by condition, location, treatment or sponsor.
      • offsite link : 
        • A for profit site which matches patients' personal profiles (including disease stage and prior treatments) to enrollment criteria for trials on a computer generated basis.  
        • There is no fee to you, the patient. EmergingMed gets paid through the fees it charges research sponsors and others. 
        • Consultants call patients who have registered with the service when a new trial comes up. 
      • offsite link: a for profit site that searches through 25,000 industry and government sponsored trials.
      • offsite link : searches multiple web sites for listings
    • If you look for a clinical trial on an internet site not listed here, consider the following:
      • The sponsor of the site.
      • The source of funding for the site.
      • Who manages and edits the site.
      • The privacy policy of the site
  • Local hospitals
    • Many hospitals and/or their admitting physicians participate in clinical trials. You may first choose to call local teaching hospitals or those hospitals containing units that specialize in the treatment of your condition.
  • Medical schools
    • Many medical schools participate in clinical trials. They may also provide information about trials that are being conducted by associates.        
  • Disease specific non-profit organizations
  • Support groups
    • Support groups and self help groups are a great source for information about local trials. In addition, you may be able obtain valuable first hand information from those who are participating in or who have completed a trial that may be of interest to you.  
    • You may also obtain information from a cancer buddy (yet another reason to have one).
    • To learn about support groups, self help groups and cancer buddies, see: Support GroupsSelf Help Groups, Buddies
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    • For questions or general information regarding clinical trials call 888-INFO-FDA (888.463.6332), or the FDA's Office of Special Health Issues at 301.827.4460. To locate FDA approved clinical trials see offsite link.
  • National Institutes of Health
    • For information about complementary medicine trials call the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, at 888.644.6226 or offsite link.
  • Drug/Pharmaceutical Companies
    • The drug companies sponsor many of their own FDA approved clinical trials. You can contact these companies directly for more information. For a listing of pharmaceutical company sponsored trials see , offsite link under the heading "industry."
    • Also look at offsite link -- the site of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations. You can also find a complete listing of drug companies and their telephone numbers in the Physicians' Desk Reference, available in most libraries, medical-book stores, and your doctor's office. Your pharmacist may also provide you with contact information.
    • Pharmaceutical companies also set up their own web sites to disclose results of their clinical trials. For example: Eli Lilly & Co., offsite link; GlaxoSmithKline PLC offsite link.
  • Cancer trials.  
    • The American Cancer Society: offsite link or call  800.303.5691
    • National Cancer Institute (NCI): trials or call 800.422.6237
    • offsite link: created by a coalition of cancer cooperative groups
    • The Cancer Information Service which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Call 800.4.CANCER or go to offsite link
    • The U.S. National Library of Medicine database at offsite link
    • CenterWatch, a publisher that specializes in clinical trials. CenterWatch includes a free e-mail service that alerts you of new trials for which you may be offsite link
    • TrialCheck: offsite link
    • Colorectal Cancer: offsite link: a website of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health.
  • HIV/AIDS Trials   To locate trials, or obtain information about FDA approved government and privately funded studies, contact:
    • The AIDS Clinical Trial Information Service (sponsored by the U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services) at 800.874.2572.
    • National HIV/AIDS Treatment Hotline at 800. 822.7422
    • The U.S. National Library of Medicine database at offsite link

If research is difficult for you, ask a friend or family member to do it for you. Or you can hire a professional.

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