Frequently Asked Questions

If you are thinking about participating in a clinical trial, you may have questions. Here are the answers to the questions we hear most often.

Where do the ideas for trials come from?
Researchers perform clinical trials. If a new therapy or procedure works well in the laboratory and in animal studies, we move it into clinical trial. Clinical trials give us more information about a new treatment, including risks and benefits.

Who sponsors clinical trials?
Physicians, medical institutions, foundations, voluntary groups, pharmaceutical companies, and federal agencies sponsor clinical trials. Federal agencies include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA). Trials often take place in hospitals, universities, doctors' offices, or community clinics.

What is a placebo?
A placebo is an inactive pill, liquid, or powder that has no treatment value. In clinical trials, we often compare experimental treatments with placebos to assess the treatment's effectiveness. In some studies, the participants in the control group receive a placebo instead of an active drug or treatment.

What is a control or control group?
A control is the standard we use to evaluate experimental observations. In many clinical trials, one group of patients receives an experimental drug or treatment. The control group gets either a standard treatment or a placebo.