Today’s elders have experienced a significant evolution of medicine – many have lived through devastation due to diseases, including polio, diphtheria and flu outbreak and many have witnessed the development of life-saving drugs.
Thanks to clinical experts, our society has stayed relatively healthy and safe. Take the recent pandemic, it took medical leaders less than a year to develop a vaccine to stave off COVID-19.
What happens behind the scenes of drug development is impressive, and all stages of development are too complex to share in this blog. But I’ll share one..clinical trials. Clinical trials scientifically study the safety and effectiveness of a therapeutic agent (such as a drug or vaccine) using consenting human subjects.
It is important for clinical trials to have participants of different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities. When research involves a group of people who are similar, the findings may not apply to or benefit everyone. When clinical trials include diverse participants, the study results may have a much wider applicability.
This is where you come in…Researchers need the participation of seniors in their clinical trials so that scientists can learn more about how the new drugs, therapies, medical devices, surgical procedures, or tests will work for older people. Many older people have special health needs that are different from those of younger people. For example, as people age, their bodies may react differently to drugs. Older adults may need different dosages (or amounts) of a drug to have the right result. Also, some drugs may have different side effects in older people than younger people. Having seniors enrolled in drug trials helps researchers get the information they need to develop the right treatment for older people.
Researchers know that it may be hard for some older people to join a clinical trial. For example, if you have many health problems, can you participate in a trial that is looking at only one condition? If you are frail or have a disability, will you be strong enough to participate? If you no longer drive, how can you get to the study site? Talk to your doctor or the coordinator of the clinical trial about your concerns. The research team may have already thought about some of the obstacles for older people and have a plan to make it easier for you to take part in the trial.
For more information on the benefits, risks and safety of clinical trials, visit: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/clinical-trials-benefits-risks-and-safety